Florida Casinos

Short Summary:  Florida is not particularly liberal when it comes to its gaming laws, but you can find most of the gambling options available to states like Nevada if you look hard enough.  With exception to Roulette and Craps, the Tribal Casinos can do whatever they like. There are live and simulcast options available at both greyhound and horse tracks through the state, many of which also act as racinos.  These racinos may offer slot machines if approved through the state, and while there is some question as to whether they should be offering player-banked table games, many of them do.

Florida is something of an in-between state when it comes to how Conservative they are regarding gambling. Most forms of gambling that anyone can possibly want are available in Florida, but that is mainly due to the existence of the Tribal Casinos. Without those, it is difficult to tell whether any full-on brick-and-mortar casinos would exist in the state as they certainly do not have any at this time. They do have racinos, which are kind of like smallish casinos that are physically tied to a racetrack and offer machines. Some of these racinos also offer player-banked table games but are on somewhat shaky ground in doing so, and all of them can offer poker.

There is a measure to be voted on in November of 2018 that will give the citizens of Florida, if passed, the ability to initiate a referendum that would put casino expansion on the ballot in a future year. Effectively, it is just a vote to be able to have a vote. Technically, it is a vote for a Constitutional Amendment that would take away the casino legalizing powers from the State Legislature and pass those powers down to the citizens of the state. The State Legislature, of course, would be the entity to decide how those casinos would be regulated if the casino expansion bill were to pass.

In the meantime, the following forms of gambling are legalized and regulated in the State of Florida:

  • Charitable Gaming
  • Pari-Mutuel (Live and Off-Track Simulcast)
  • Lottery
  • Tribal Casinos

Florida does have an exhaustive list of what forms of gambling are allowed when it comes to charitable gaming, but it is difficult to say how strictly any of this is enforced. There do not seem to be any specific licensing procedures, and more than that, it does not appear that the state taxes charitable gaming revenues. With that being the case, it seems as though if the charities operate within the confines of the charitable gaming codes, they should be okay.

In terms of racing, not only is Florida one of the few states of the fifty to have legalized greyhound racing, they are one of only six states to still have tracks in operation, unfortunately. There is an Amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would put an end to greyhound racing after giving the tracks a couple of years to wind down operations, but unfortunately, it looks like that Amendment is going to fail and this barbaric sport will continue.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m generally a pro-gambling guy in all respects, but I am against the greyhound industry (and kind of, but not quite as much, horse racing) because they are living creatures who are incapable of making a decision to be used for gambling. Also, the horses seem to be kept in nicer conditions than do the dogs.

In addition to the greyhound racing, as one might expect, Florida also has horse tracks that offer both live and simulcast wagering. There are several of these locations throughout the state.

The Florida State Lottery pumps in billions of dollars annually, like, actual billions. In addition to their own games, they are in the multi-state network for Powerball and Mega Millions.

Finally, Florida is home to several Tribal Casinos which are semi-regulated by way of compact with the state.

Legality Of Online Gambling In Florida

Florida does not play around when it comes to operators of unlawful forms of gambling, which means anyone who is not operating a form of gambling specifically licensed and regulated by the state. The letter of the law focuses not just on owners, but also on any employees, who may unwittingly be committing a class three Felony. That’s pretty serious business, so Florida is not the state where you want to be committing unauthorized gambling as an operator, though it has certainly happened.

Florida does have laws and punishments for those who commit unauthorized gambling as players, which read as follows:

Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

The key here is the, “By any device whatsoever,” which would cover a person gambling from his or her own computer. As a practical matter, by no amount of digging could we uncover an instance in which any player was ever arrested, fined or otherwise punished for gambling in his/her own home.

Floridians who lose money gambling unlawfully theoretically have the right to recovery by suing whoever the entity was to whom they lost the money. Of course, this would be ineffective when it comes to offshore online casinos because, even if the person won the lawsuit, Florida does not have the jurisdictional reach it would need to enforce payment to the winning party. Similar to Connecticut, a person enjoys immunity from prosecution if they institute such a lawsuit, so it is effectively not considered an admission of guilt of their own unauthorized gambling.

There have been a few busts for unlawful gambling in the state, but the ones that we could find generally had to do with illegal poker rings or sports betting rings that were operating somewhere physically, as opposed to online. In addition to that, Florida is one of the southern states that occasionally have problems with so-called, “Internet Cafes,” which are locations in which people buy credits and play games that are on the computers in-house. These are actually fairly common in the Southern States, but find themselves closed pretty quickly. South Carolina, Alabama and Texas are a few examples of states that have had the same, “Problem.”

The final word on this is that we cannot envision a scenario in which a mere player would find himself in any legal trouble for playing at an online casino from home.

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Land-based Casinos In Florida:

The first thing to understand about any full-on casinos in Florida is that they are all Tribal Casinos, so any proper casino with slot machines, all house-banked table games, etc. is going to be Native American owned. As of this time, the State of Florida legalizes and regulates racinos, which can have machines, poker, must be tied to a racetrack and the status of player-banked table games is up in the air. Some offer them under their interpretation of the law.

For whatever reason, the Tribal Casinos can offer whatever table games they wish, which exception only to Craps and Roulette, which they are not allowed to offer.

With only one exception, which we will list first, the rest of the casinos in the State of Florida are all operated by the Seminole Tribe.

Really, Florida is just a weird state when it comes to some of their laws and their gambling laws, of course, are no different.

Miccosukee Casino

The Miccosukee Casino is located in Miami, Florida and is owned and operated by a tribe of the same name.

Given the presence of a salon, spa, golf course and cabaret, this gets billed as a resort. As far as the gaming is concerned, the only thing advertised on their website is slot machines and they do not seem to be advertising any table games. They do offer what they term, “High-Stakes Bingo.”

NOTE: The remaining casinos on this part of the list are all Seminole owned, so there is no reason to specifically state that from here on out.

Seminole Casino Classic

We guess this is as opposed to the Seminole Casino Contemporary, what a strange name. This casino offers more than 1,000 slot machines, some table games and a bingo room of 250 seats that promotes itself as offering, “High-Stakes Bingo.” That seems to be a proper advertising term in the state, as opposed to just saying Bingo. Just another thing that is unique to Florida, it seems.

Located in Hollywood, Florida, the following table games are offered: Blackjack, Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, Spanish 21, Mississippi Stud, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em, War, Three Card Poker, Double Draw Poker and Criss Cross Poker.

Aside from that, they have a few lounges and a few dining options, but this otherwise looks like it would be primarily a place for locals and not at all a destination casino.

Seminole Casino Brighton

This casino is located in Okeechobee, Florida and seems pretty similar in scope to the Seminole Casino Classic in terms of offerings, though it is quite a bit smaller. This casino boasts only over 400 slot machines, also claims to have this high-stakes Bingo action and offers a few table games. The only two games claimed by this website as far as table games are concerned would be Blackjack and Three-Card Poker.

With even fewer dining and entertainment options that the Seminole Casino Classic, this is pretty strictly going to be a locals hangout or a place to maybe hit up if you just happen to be nearby anyway. This is definitely not a place you need to go out of your way to check out unless you’re a table game chip collector or something.

Seminole Immokalee

Located in the city of the same name, this casino at least boasts a hotel with total rooms numbering 100, 19 of which are suites. In addition to that, this casino boasts 1,300 slots as well as 38 gaming tables. Even though this place seems slightly bigger in scope than Brighton and Seminole Casino Classic, it appears that this casino does not offer Bingo.

The casino offers the following table games: Blackjack, Mini Baccarat, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Pai Gow Poker, Let it Ride, Blackjack Switch, Spanish 21, Mississippi Stud, Double Deck Pitch Blackjack, Midi Baccarat

With multiple dining options and an event center this is definitely bigger in scope than the properties listed above.

Seminole Coconut Creek

Located in Coconut Creek, Florida, while this facility may not have a hotel dedicated to it, it is certainly the biggest casino floor we have listed so far as they advertise more than 2,000 Las Vegas-style slot machines. They also have seventy table games which include, Blackjack, Mini Baccarat, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Pai Gow Poker, Let it Ride, Blackjack Switch, Spanish 21, Mississippi Stud, Double Deck Pitch Blackjack, Midi Baccarat. In addition to these table games, this casino also has electronic craps and roulette because, for whatever weird and oh-so-Florida reason, they are not allowed to offer the real deal. This is also the first Seminole Casino on this list to offer a poker room.

In terms of dining and entertainment, this place seems pretty similar to the Seminole Casino in Brighton. If you like any of the games and are in Florida within a reasonable distance, it might be worth checking out, but I also wouldn’t go too far out of my way to get here.

Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Better known perhaps as simply, “The Hard Rock,” now we’re playing with the big boys when it comes to casinos. Featuring a twelve-story hotel tower and the sixth-largest casino floor in the world, this is finally a bona fide destination casino in the Florida area fit to plan a trip around. Originally known as the Four Points Sheraton, this casino features more than five thousand Vegas style slot machines, more than 100 table games including, Blackjack, Mini Baccarat, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Pai Gow Poker, Let it Ride, Blackjack Switch, Spanish 21, Mississippi Stud, Double Deck Pitch Blackjack and Midi Baccarat as well as a poker room with 46 tables.

If you’re looking for some harder-to-find table games, you might be in luck as the Hard Rock Tampa advertises Asia Poker, Blackjack Switch, Double Exposure Blackjack, Crazy 4 Poker, Double Draw Poker, Criss Cross Poker, and Pai-Gow Tiles. When it comes to these more difficult to find games, we would certainly recommend actually calling the property to figure out what hours specific games run as they almost certainly do not operate around the clock.

From fine to casual, there are a wide variety of dining options as well as a salon on the property. Event Centers are also available for anyone who needs to host a conference or other event.

Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood

While this casino may not be of the size and scope that the Hard Rock Tampa is, offering over 2,000 slot machines makes this place not a slouch by any stretch of the imagination. While this casino may boast more than 100 table games, you will not find anything too out of the ordinary here as they only advertise Blackjack, Mini Baccarat, Three-Card Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Let it Ride, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, Casino War and Spanish 21.

The property also features a live poker room that it says is open around the clock. Otherwise, this property can basically just be considered a slightly scaled back version of the Hard Rock Tampa, it probably offers enough in the form of dining, amenities and entertainment that it could be considered an entry-level destination casino. If you come from a state with legalized and regulated commercial casinos, or a place like Arizona with such big and expansive Tribal Casinos, this won’t seem too impressive. If you’re from one of the unfortunate states who do not have any full-on casinos, you will be more than pleased with your visit here, if not a little bit overwhelmed.

Racinos

Aside from those casinos, there are a few dozen racinos, which are all tied to either greyhound or horse racing tracks located throughout the state. One and all, these racetracks will offer live racing on given days and at given times as well as simulcast wagering during their operating hours.

Where things can get a little dicey on these racinos, and why you would want to call or check their websites for more specifics, is because the offerings outside of the racing vary pretty wildly. The majority of them have some sort of slot machines, even though a few of them don’t. Some of them offer live poker whereas others don’t.

In terms of table games, any of these racinos would be definitely violating Florida law if they were to offer house-banked table games, which is to say that the house makes its money by way of a house edge. They may be on shaky ground, but some of these racinos seem to believe they can offer player-banked table games, so the, “Bank,” gets passed around and each player takes turns acting as the house, unless one player wants to do it the whole time and everyone agrees.

In other words, some of these places offer a few table games in a fashion similar to the California Card Rooms in which the house just takes a per-hand fee and lets the players do the banking for the game. Again, there is really nothing in the codes that explicitly makes this legal for them to do and all of that is being decided.

I feel pretty comfortable saying that none of these places are really worth going out of your way to visit unless you just happen to be near one, or you have never been to a racetrack before. If the latter is the case, I can almost promise that you’ll have a much better time at one of the larger Seminole Casinos, unless you just happen to fall in love with racing.

These racinos are really just places for locals to go putter around more than anything. If you’re in the area and you need something to do for an evening, they’re just fine, but I would absolutely not plan a visit to Florida around one of these places. As weird as I may think the state is, they definitely have more exciting things to do than go to a racino.

Florida dog track racinos are found in West Palm Beach, Tampa, Sarasota, Saint Petersburg, Pensacola, Monticello, Miami, Melbourne, Jacksonville, Hallandale Beach, Ebro, Daytona Beach, and Bonita Springs.

You can enjoy horse track racinos in Tampa, Pompano Beach, Miami, Hialeah, Hallandale, and Gretna.

Cruise Ships and Casinos

Florida is the main hub for cruise ships of all kinds in the United States. Most cruise ships also have casinos on board and there’re some that are solely designed to be floating casinos once they reach international waters. Florida has specific casino cruises launching from Port Richey and Fort Myers Beach. You can also take cruises from Cape Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Riviera Beach, and Miramar.

Jai-Alai

Jai-Alai is a pari-mutuel wagering game that is played in Florida. At one time it was popular in other states but currently, it’s only played in Florida.

You can see Jai-Alai in Miami, Reddick, Dania Beach, Jasper, Orlando, and Fort Pierce.

Slot Machine Ownership

Citizens of Florida aren’t allowed to own new slot machines but may possess machines that are at least 20 years old. The laws are designed so collectors can build a collection of machines but only licensed casinos and racinos can have newer machines.

Florida Lottery

Florida has a state-run lottery that offers jackpot drawing games as well as instant and scratch-off games. Florida residents can also buy Mega Millions lottery tickets and Powerball tickets.

Poker in Florida

While poker has been legal in Florida for many years, it used to be limited by a state law that capped maximum wagers at $2. Then a law was passed that allowed no limit games but with a capped buy-in of only $100. These laws created plenty of low limit action but forced any serious poker players to go out of state to play or to find an online card room where they could play.

Fortunately, these limits were finally lifted in 2010 and poker players can enjoy the same betting structures found in other popular gambling locations like Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Conclusion And Prognosis

We don’t really know what to prognosticate when it comes to the future of gambling in Florida because so much of how it already works in the state seems completely non-intuitive.

You have Tribal Casinos who, for whatever reason, are not allowed to have Live Craps and Live Roulette, but are permitted to have electronic versions of those games. In California Card Rooms, it would be because the state requires that only cards can be used as a physical implement of the game, but obviously, that is not the problem, because the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa offers Pai-Gow Tiles, which does not use cards.

With exception to the Craps and Roulette, it seems that the tribes can offer whatever gambling they like with exception to sports and online.

Most of the news sources in Florida, such as this one.

Don’t expect the Legislature to pull it together and get sportsbetting going in the state, and why should anybody be surprised? A state that operates in bizarre ways continues to get more bizarre. They could legalize it and have it offered in the racetracks that already do racing simulcasts and, more or less, have the implements they need to put some primitive form of sportsbooks together thereby better competing against the tribal gambling in the state, but they probably won’t. If they ever do, it likely won’t be for several years.

Online gambling is also something that we may expect to see legalized and regulated sometime way down the line in Florida, but it’s not likely going to be anytime soon. As of right now, they don’t even have house-banked table games in the racinos and there is some question as to whether the racinos doing player-banked are actually behaving in accordance with the law. My guess is their argument is that it essentially is the same as jai-alai, which isn’t really true.

The state is extremely loose with charitable gaming, both financially and in a regulatory sense, which is nice. They also seem to have everything basically buttoned-up with their state lottery system. Aside from that, while there may eventually be change in the state, it should be expected to be slow coming.

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