Keeping on the right side of the law in America isn’t always as easy as in other countries. This is because different states have control over their own laws regarding issues such as driving, drinking and gambling. What is legal in one state might not be in the state next door and crossing the state line could get you in serious trouble if you don’t follow the local laws.
Gambling laws are probably the most varied laws across the country. Some states ban all forms of gambling outright, while in others, everything is legal. Most are somewhere in the middle, and there’s definitely been a more liberal swing in recent decades, with the American gambling market beginning to open up.
Following some pretty heavy lobbying of the Department of Justice several states, the rules surrounding sports betting have been substantially relaxed. This means that many states now offer online and in-person opportunities for their citizens to have a flutter on their favorite teams. There are many more states with bills in the pipeline too, having seen how popular the lifting of restrictions has been in those initial areas.
But what about Florida specifically? What can you do, what is still illegal, and what falls into that crooked grey area between legislations? Read on to find out.
Gambling Legislation in the Sunshine State
Don’t get caught out, check the rules and regulations in place in Floridabefore you gamble.
Florida’s laws are fairly restrictive compared to other states. Here’s what you can and can’t currently do:
- Sports betting – not allowed in the state. You can wager on horse races but only at the event itself, not remotely. This comes under pari-mutual gambling, where the winnings are determined by how much people stake. The house takes a cut, and someone is guaranteed to win.
- Casino gambling – at tribal casinos or pari-mutual venues only. At the tribal casinos you can engage in several table games including poker, blackjack and roulette, as well as slot machines. Poker is also available at several legal card rooms, again using the pari-mutual gambling system of wagering.
- Lotteries – state and interstate lotteries are legal in Florida, and you can buy tickets and scratch cards at several outlets.
- Social gambling – you can play games at home with friends as long as the stakes are kept very low; winnings should be a maximum of $10 per person per game. This may not make for the most exciting evening, but at least you aren’t going to have the cops bursting in mid-game.
- Casino cruises –ships used to sail out to international waters to get around the strict gambling laws, but these have now been made illegal as well.
- Online gambling –this is one of those notorious grey areas. Online gambling isn’t explicitly illegal, but it hasn’t been deemed legal either. Businesses are not allowed to operate online casinos from within state lines, so all available providers are international and unregulated by the state’s government.
The Online Debate
Online gambling has been a contentious issue for many years. While many people feel it makes gambling too easy to access and identities too hard to confirm, others feel that quality websitescould benefit the state’s economy. By properly regulating these websites, requiring them to obtain a license and abide by state rules, the government can exercise more control over the experience their players have. Introducing regulations forces websites to abide by state rules if they want to continue operating – and if they don’t, there are plenty of others waiting to take their space.
Licensing online casinos also guarantees that Florida’s gamblers only get the best quality games and ensures the marketplace remains competitive. Another reason to start regulating online casinos is that it gives the state government the opportunity to collect taxes from operators. Currently, all takings by international casinos see American money moving offshore and staying there. Being able to tax a percentage would keep that money in the economy and provide larger state budgets for things like education and transport maintenance.
The Florida government should look to countries like the UK, whose gambling industry is rigorously regulated by the Gambling Commission. Any site that operates here must abide by these strict laws, as well pay 15% tax on all their profits. This gives players confidence to gamble on sites like 888 Casino. Here, players can wager on a wide range of casino games, all while knowing their games are fair and their bets are safe. This is probably one of the best online casino sitesin the UK.
What does the Future Hold?
Florida’s government is already deep in talks with the Seminole Tribe to bring about legal sports betting within the state. While there are still some hurdles to overcome, we could see legal sports books operating in early 2022. This would see Florida join the other 20 US states who have already legalized sports betting, including New York, Iowa, and Nevada.
As for online gambling, there don’t seem to be any firm plans to update legislation. Some US states have started to offer online casinos, but there are far fewer than those looking at sports betting. However, where online casinos have been legalized, the states have seen a good return in terms of tax revenue, which will be encouraging to other states, like Florida, who are watching to see what happens.
Make sure you know the rules when visiting Florida, because there are many restrictions on what you can and cannot do. While some, like the ban on sports betting, are changing in the near future, other changes seem unlikely.