Stuck on a sunny beach between the beauties and the deep blue sea, any legal alien in Florida is bound to end up at the roulette table sooner or later. With its 88 betting venues, 73 of which are casinos, the Sunshine State is guaranteed to please even the most seasoned gambler, whatever his tastes and budget.
Both locals and visitors in Florida seem ready to bet on anything, from dog races on the beach to bingo cards at an Indian motel. And budget levels vary just as much. You can drive your Cadillac to a ten-storey gambling paradiso, where you will pay $20 just to have a sit. Or you can get a thrill at a $10 deposit casino where ten bucks is all it takes to receive a friendly welcome bonus and enjoy your favourite slot games.
Gambling isn’t exactly illegal in the state as the laws simply don’t mention it. Local authorities have turned a happily blind eye to it, and the state’s public fund receives over one billion dollars per fiscal year from the Florida Lottery alone. Incidentally, a large part of it goes to the construction of schools and the general development of public education in Florida.
There are some legal restrictions, however. For example, table games and slot machines are only allowed from the age of 21. On the other hand, there are plenty of games you can enjoy starting from the age of 18. The government is pretty strict about that: if you get caught, you can easily land in jail for a couple of months or have to pay $500 to bail yourself out.
So whilst you’re waiting for your happy 21st, you can indulge yourself in scratch games and live pokers in the meantime. And since drinking is illegal before the age of 21, you’ll have to enjoy the game with a glass of Diet Coke, unless the proprietor is Mexican or Chinese.
In simple terms, your taxes will depend on how much you win and what games you play. First, you must remember that you have to pay federal taxes if you win above the amounts stipulated by the law, and that applies to permanent and temporary residents as well. In other words, you’ll need to file the W-2G and your SSN with the IRS and pay 24% of your winnings yourself.
On top of that, Florida will charge you a 25% tax for the state’s general fund, but you don’t have to do anything about it as the gambling venue will automatically deduct it from your winnings and send it to the IRS. The current taxable limits are:
- $600 for sports betting, including horse racing and greyhound racing
- $1.2K for table games, bingo cards and slot machines
- $5K for poker games
Your winnings below these amounts are not subject to taxation.
What about online casinos? Yes, there are plenty of them in Florida too. They are illegal, though. However, the offshore ones are not. So there are plenty of them around anyway, but the state government says, “It’s not us!”, and continues to receive funds for public education, to everyone’s satisfaction.
Online casinos in Florida offer the same variety of games and betting options as they do everywhere else. Likewise, you can expect welcome bonuses, with and without deposits, and other promotional offers too. The first deposit bonuses stay within the statistically most common limits of 100-200%.
The wagering requirements range from 25 to 35 times the bonus, although it can sometimes go up to 60, which is still quite generous by international standards. The most popular games seem to be blackjack, roulette, poker, baccarat and slots. Visionary iGaming and Pragmatic Play continue to dominate the stage, although Betsoft and Fresh Deck Studios have asked them to move up a bit.
Going on a casino cruise is another popular option in Florida. Or you can have it all in one in Daytona, where stylish poker tables, beautiful sea views, delicious food and thrilling greyhound races blend into one elegant gambling afternoon. And if you feel you’ve had enough entertainment for one day, you can return to the beach and plop down on the warm sand between the deep blue sea and the Cadillacs.