Florida Poker Laws

A Guide to Poker in the State of Florida

Florida Gambling Laws

poker legallystands. Then the options for live players are covered, before ending with the situation of online poker in Florida.

A Brief History of Gambling in Florida

Florida’s gambling history is, until recently, a story of State objection - with illegal casinos and card rooms operated by the mob. The first casino was established in St. Augustine in 1888 by Henry Flagler. Despite being illegal, The Bacchus Club Casino was able to serve the high stakes gambling appetites of Florida residents.

In the 1920s, Boilta, a numbers game originating from Cuba grew rapidly in popularity across Florida. This resulted in several new gambling houses appearing in order to provide this game, which quickly drew the attention of the Mob. During the rest of the 1920s and 30s organized crime dominated Florida’s casinos until a crackdown in the 1940s pushed games underground.

The Seminole tribe opened their first casino on their Tribal land in 1979. This was originally bingo hall, which continued to operate with objections from the authorities until a ruling was made in the tribe’s favor. After casinos were permitted in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties in 2004, the range of games allowed in all casinos expanded. This meant the Seminole tribes could incorporate slots into their business, resulting widening popularity and a rapid growth of their casinos.

Does Florida Allow Me to Play Poker?

The good news is that even though poker is classed as gambling, live poker is legal in Florida within licensed properties. Should you wish to run a home game, this is legal providing certain rules are followed

Limit poker was first permitted in licensed card rooms in 1989, along with strict caps ensuring no pot was bigger than $10. This was later relaxed in 2003 allowing for larger pots, although betting was kept at $2 maximum. Since then further laws have been passed allowing expansion of poker throughout the State and has seen No Limit games being introduced with the betting caps removed.

This progression has created a poker boom in the Sunshine State with many professional and recreational players now enjoying the game.

Options for Playing Live Poker in Florida

After the relaxation of the laws relating to live poker you can now find many card rooms throughout Florida, providing a wide range of cash games and daily tournaments. The rooms, primarily connected to the Tribal casinos and racetrack, vary in quality. You can find small premises catering for the local residents or top class casinos such as the Hard Rock who host large field WPT tournaments.

Home games are permitted in the State, providing the organizers do not charge a rake or fee for taking part. Florida has the additional condition that nobody profits from the game, limiting wins to $10. By breaking these limits you could fall foul of running an illegal game if word ever got to the authorities, although there are plenty of options available in Florida if you wish to play for higher stakes.

The Status of Online Poker in Florida

Florida has introduced laws in 2012 to curb the internet sweepstake cafes which had gained a foothold in the State. These cafes essentially operated as hubs for online casinos so the new legislation brought a halt to wagering online.

While poker was not specifically named, the wording is very broad and vague. Not only can any form of online poker be considered a breach, even owning a device that allows you to place an online bet could be classed as illegal. As this applies to every single person with a computer, smartphone or tablet, it is no surprise the authorities have chosen not to enforce it.

As no one has ever been charged with playing online poker, many residents still enjoy playing on offshore sites. The companies behind these are based and licensed in locations outside the US, where online poker is legal. If you choose to play there while there are no barriers to accessing most sites, you may it difficult to deposit money as there are federal laws preventing US banks processing transactions to and from these sites.

Because Florida has developed into a gambling friendly State there is no reason why they would not consider regulated games in the future. While there are no specific plans at present it is believed Florida is waiting to see how the games develop in existing regulated States before introducing their own bills.

In Summary – Florida Poker

In recent years Florida has moved from a restrictive State to one which openly accepts poker. You can now enjoy the regular games in legal card rooms and even compete in some of the biggest tournaments in the world.

These liberal views to gambling do not as yet apply to the online game. With laws in place to prevent online betting, it is fair to class online poker as illegal gambling. The good news is that not only has the law yet to be enforced for individuals, it seems unlikely that the authorities will ever attempt to. Instead it is believed that Florida is looking to see how regulated poker evolves in other States before they attempt their own legislation.