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The law in Florida as it relates to gambling is pretty clear, and they have in fact gone out of their way to include all forms of gambling, whether that be at a live event or gambling on devices of any kind, including electronic devices. Here’s how the law reads:
“Gambling: 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.”
So by including “by any device whatsoever,” this would involve gambling on electronic devices, so the fact that it the gambling occurs by electronic means would not make it exempt from this law, in spite of what some people may erroneously think.
However, does poker qualify as a game of chance here? The Florida courts have defined this as a game which relies significantly on the element of chance, and this is of course rather vague. It is of note that among the prohibited games mentioned in this section, “cards” is listed first, and poker is indeed a card game.
However, it does mention cards and other games of chance, but what if poker is seen as not a game of chance but a game of skill primarily? Well even if this is the case it wouldn‘t matter, as section 849.14 prohibits wagering based upon contests of skill as well (2), so that won’t even help.
The only saving grace here is that there has never been anyone prosecuted in the United States for playing poker online, even in the states with the harshest laws against it, like Washington State which has laws making playing online poker explicitly illegal. So if it isn’t being prosecuted there wouldn’t seem to be any real reason to be concerned, even if it is illegal.
Live Poker In Florida
Florida has a total of 8 Indian Casinos, in addition 25 non-Native casinos known as “racinos,” since they are all racetracks which have been given casino licenses as well, and 2 “Casino Ships.” (3).
Almost all of these gambling facilities offer poker rooms, although they mostly tend to be on the small side However there is a total of 31 poker rooms spread widely across the state, so while they may not be big in size they certainly are pretty numerous and fairly easily accessible no matter what region of the state you are from.
The poker at the Indian casinos is probably the best you will find, as opposed to the racinos which may only have a few tables. The Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa is noteworthy, and features 50 tables, and boasts one of the state’s largest card rooms. Florida does now have a dedicated card room open which is neither a racino or an Indian Casino, the “Best Bet” in Jacksonville, and is the largest poker room in the state with 70 tables (5).
The state had historically only granted licenses to racetracks and the opening of this new poker room, which found a loophole in the law, may be a trend where legislators are prepared to cash in on live poker more without worrying so much about promoting racetracks while doing so.
Online Poker Regulation In Florida
Florida is one of several states that have introduced a new gaming bill, SBP7082, but the bill notably did not mention online poker. This bill instead looks to make changes in the way gaming is regulated in the state, for instance relaxing standards to operate live poker rooms in the state, but does not address the issue of regulating online gambling (6).
However, discussions about regulating online poker in Florida have been going on for a few years now, and these discussions are continuing, and it may be that an online poker bill may be introduced there in the near future, but nothing is imminent.
As is often the case, there may be opposition from land based operators who may fear that online poker or online gambling may compete with their business, but this has been shown through studies done in other states that it really isn’t an issue.
Florida is the country’s 4th most populous state, with 20 million people, and the people of Florida also are pretty fond of poker, and online poker in particular, so the market here may be huge if and when a deal gets done.
Our Recommended Online Poker Sites For Florida Residents
In the meantime, Florida poker players are flocking to Ignition Poker and Casino, which is one of the most trusted iGaming brands we recommend for players in this region. If you’re looking to play legitimate online poker games – under anonymous names on top of that – then check out our Ignition Review today to learn more and sign up for your account.
It is NOT a crime to play online poker at a trusted offshore site like Ignition, so don’t be hesitant if you’re looking to find a solid game online. They have the best cash games running right now, give out MILLIONS a month in MTT prizes, as well as boast the smoothest software out there today.