Online sports betting in Florida is legal, but the enterprise is currently on hold as a complex legal dispute plays out. At issue is whether an amended gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state amounts to an unconstitutional expansion of tribal gaming.
As the legal situation unfolds, it is useful to stay up to date on what’s available in the Sunshine State. Read on for a comprehensive guide to the growing online gambling industry in Florida and how to spot a legitimate and secure site.
The Status of Legal Online Gambling in Florida
Players in Florida will have certainly got their hopes up with the recent changes to online betting. However, there is still a way to go to establish stable online sports betting opportunities. Here is the current status for activities in FL:
Online Sportsbooks in Florida
There is currently no firm decision on sports betting for Floridians.
In early 2021, the Seminole Tribe and the state amended their gaming compact to allow the tribe to launch a state-wide sportsbook app. The tribe launched its Hard Rock Sportsbook on November 1, 2021.
But three weeks later, a federal district court judge vacated the amended compact on the grounds that it allowed for an illegal expansion of online sports betting beyond tribal lands. The tribe took the sportsbook down but also appealed the decision.
An attempt to place sports betting on the ballot in 2022 fell short of the required number of signatures. Bettors must now wait for the outcome of the Seminole Tribe’s appeal to find out whether they can bet online in Florida.
Online Casinos in Florida
Online casino gambling is illegal in Florida. Participating in any card game or game of chance on a device is considered a misdemeanor in the state. Attempts have been made to change the situation but with no success. It is likely that the sports betting issue will need to be cleared up before lawmakers will reconsider online gambling.
Daily Fantasy Sports in Florida
The Sunshine State hasn’t passed any laws on daily fantasy sports (DFS). The activity is allowed, and big names like FanDuel and DraftKings accept players from Florida.
Legal Gambling Activities in Florida
There are some gambling activities that you can enjoy while in Florida, including:
Live Poker Rooms
Florida is a hotbed for live poker with card rooms spread throughout the state. From cash games to daily tournaments to major live events, poker players in Florida have many options when it comes to live poker. Hopefully grassroot efforts combined the popularity of poker will help get online poker legalized in Florida eventually.
Florida has a lottery, although you cannot buy tickets online. There are around 13,000 retail outlets where you can buy tickets for local games, like Grouper and Florida Lotto, as well as scratchers. There are also opportunities to participate in multi-state draws like Mega Millions and Powerball.
There are seven land-based casinos in Florida. They are all located on tribal lands and are owned by the Miccosukee Tribe or the Seminole Tribe. Numerous casino cruises also exist on the state’s extensive coastline.
Florida allows pari-mutuel wagers on horse racing at its five racetracks. There are also off-track betting locations that have games and are classed as racinos. Advanced deposit betting is also possible online at legal websites.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) wagering is allowed in Florida, although there is no legislation to specifically address this activity.
Legal vs. Illegal Online Sports Betting in the US
Legal sports betting sites provide a safer way to play than illegal sites, which come with several risks for bettors. A legal operation has responsible gaming tools, fair odds, reasonable terms and conditions, and transparent policies. They use the latest technologies to secure financial transactions and are clear about how quickly you will receive your payout.
Illegal sites don’t offer the same protections. They aren’t answerable to independent bodies or the law within that specific jurisdiction. The focus is on making money, not the safety of players, and the site could shut down or close your account without returning your money.
Illegal Online Gaming Offered in Florida
Illegal online gaming operators do still target Florida players, offering sports betting, casino games, and poker. You need to be aware that these sites could be advertised on Google and appear in your search result, where you could mistake them for legitimate sites.
Why Offshore Betting Sites are Unsafe
There are several reasons why Illegal offshore betting sites should be avoided. We breakdown some of the top reasons so players can be informed on how to avoid unnecessary risk.
- Your money is at risk – Florida players’ money is not protected, as illicit sites can invalidate bets that were due to have large returns, close your account without warning, remove services along with your funds, and confiscate winnings for any reason. And there is no way to hold them accountable. Illegal sites have also been known to delay payouts in an attempt to keep players wagering with the hopes that they will lose the money back to the site. There is also the risk that government authorities will seize your funds while the transaction is being processed.
- Identity Theft – Another risk is having your identity stolen. When you encounter these problems, you do not have an independent body, like a regulatory authority, to intercede.
- Unfair Business Practices — Offshore sites often engage in business practices that are not tolerated by US gaming regulators such as misleading bonus and promotion advertising.
- No Responsible Gaming Features – The lack of responsible gambling controls and resources leaves players vulnerable to problem gambling. Legal regulated sites are required to provide tools that keep online gambling safe and fun, but offshore sites are only motivated by profit and therefore may even try to encourage behavior that can be harmful.
- No Tax Revenue — Offshore sites do not pay taxes to your state or local community. As a result, they do not contribute to helping those with gambling problems, funding law enforcement and education, and because the are located outside the country, they do not provide jobs that could fuel local economies.
How to Know a Site is Legal, Regulated, and Safe
These five signs will easily help you to determine whether a site is legal or illegal:
- USGamingReview.com Approval: The fastest and simplest way to see if a site is legal is to visit our site and read the reviews.
- State Regulator: You can check the footer of the home page of a site; if it has the seal of a state regulator, then you know it is legal.
- Welcome US Players: Any site that uses the phrase “US players welcome” is likely to be illegal. Sites are authorized on a state-by-state basis, which means they do not open up their services to everyone in the US.
- Cryptocurrency: A site that accepts cryptocurrency is illegal.
- Domain: It is likely that a site with a domain ending .lv, .ag, and .eu is illegal; legal sites use .com.
Why Choose a Legal US Online Sports Betting Site?
Florida players should choose a legal US betting site because they:
- Are fair and transparent when it comes to odds and policies
- Provide responsible gambling tools and resources
- Are regulated by an independent body that holds them to account
- Benefit the community in numerous ways
- Support problem gambling services – legal sites divert part of their revenue to services in the state that help those with gambling problems.
- Stimulate the local economy – US-based gambling sites create jobs, which help those in need of work.
- Support education projects – many states use gambling revenues to fund education projects in state schools or for student aid.
- Give revenue to other community projects – states use gambling revenues in areas where there is a need. It could be used on programs for seniors or those with disabilities to support daily life as seen in New Jersey, for tourism, or for law enforcement training, as seen in Michigan.
Responsible Gaming Resources in Florida
Online gambling is illegal in Florida, but other activities are permitted, which is why several responsible gambling resources are available. Whatever the outcome of the current issues, bettors in Florida can rely on these sites and helplines:
- Florida Gamblers Anonymous: This support group meets every day of the week in different locations throughout Florida, aiming to help those affected by problem gambling. There are meetings in Boca Raton, Southwest Florida, Naples, Sarasota, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Zephyrhills, and online.
- Florida Department of Health: The department is responsible for health and addiction services in FL and provides information on counseling resources for problem gambling.
- Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling: This non-profit organization provides information and support via its website, live chat, and helpline on 888-236-4848.
- Gam-Anon: This 12-step self-help organization provides support for the family and friends of problem gamblers. Contact numbers for North Florida are 866-442-8622 or 888-424-3577, or the hotline for South Florida 718-352-1671.
- National Problem Gambling Helpline: You can call or text 1-800-522-4700 or use the live chat on the website for confidential help 24/7. It has screening tools to help people identify if they have a problem.
Florida Gaming Regulator Information
The Department of Legal Affairs established the Florida Gaming Control Commission in 2021 with the aim of regulating all permitted forms of gambling by July 2022. It covers all activities except state lotteries.
History of Florida Online Gambling Legislation
The history of online gambling legislation in Florida is relatively short but complex. There has been no specific legislation for Daily Fantasy Sports, although there are sites operating and accepting customers in the state. Horse racing progressed from racetracks to off-track betting and online wagers.
There are two main pieces of legislation regarding sports betting, which make current advances contentious. A new gaming compact was agreed upon in May 2021. It granted the Seminole tribe the right to work out revenue-sharing deals with operators for sports betting sites and to establish a new gaming commission.
On the other hand, Amendment 3, which was approved in 2018, stated that any attempt to expand gambling beyond tribal lands would need 60% approval in a state referendum. A ruling at the end of November 2021 overturned the gaming compact as it violates the Florida State constitution and federal Indian gambling law. The sportsbook app was withdrawn in December 2021, and the Seminole Tribe with the Hard Rock Sportsbook have filed an appeal. The issue is yet to be resolved.
Is online gambling legal in Florida?
Online gambling is not currently legal in Florida. There are no online sportsbooks available, and until the courts reach a decision, it is a gray area. In Florida, DFS sites are allowed to accept players.
Since online gambling is not legal in Florida, is choosing an illegal offshore site safe?
No, it is not safe to choose an illegal offshore site. The practices and odds might not be fair, your money could be at risk, and there are no responsible gambling tools.
What are the risks of playing at an illegal offshore online sports betting site?
When you play at an illegal offshore online sportsbook, you could encounter the following risks:
- No support or measures to avoid problem gambling
- Slow payouts, aiming to encourage you to spend more
- Account closures after significant wins
- Unfair policies
Can I bet at legal US sportsbooks using cryptocurrencies?
No, legal US sportsbooks do not accept Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies of any kind. A site that accepts these payment methods is illegal.
Where can I get the latest news about online sports betting in Florida?
You can get the latest news about online sports betting in Florida at USGamingReview.com.