Published On: Thu, Feb 20th, 2020

Should Florida Legalize Online Casinos Like Many Countries Have?

Online gambling in Florida is a slippery topic. As of now, if you indulge in online gambling in the state of Florida, you are committing a criminal offense. As stated in Section 849.08:

“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”

Much of these forbiddances against online gambling came up during the regime of Governor Rick Scott, who is strongly opposed to online gambling. A major part of the campaign donations for Rick Scott came from billionaire Sheldon Adelson founder, chairman of Las Vegas Sands , who is again strongly against gambling over the internet. Things are further intensified by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) that:

“Prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.”

It is because of these strict laws, that plenitude of online casinos does not accept members from the United States of America. There are some online gambling websites that do allow US citizens to participate; however, due to the UIGEA, it is exceedingly difficult to deposit to or withdraw money from these gambling websites. This further depresses the gambling enthusiasts living in the US.

The Current Situation

Now, with the exit of Rick Scott and the entry of Ron DeSantis as the new Governor of Florida, gambling enthusiasts from the state are hopeful to see some liberalizations in the anti-gambling laws.

Commercial casinos are prohibited in the state of Florida, however, tribal casinos are in operation for long. A good number of these casinos in the state are operated by the Seminole Tribe that includes Class III. The Seminole Tribe and the state government are under various compacts regarding gambling. Recently, in 2019, talks over an updated compact went off the table as tribal leaders and the state government terminated the talks. If online gambling has to be legalized in Florida, it is up to the tribal leaders to take the step and enter into a discussion with the state government over the inclusion of online gambling in the next compact.

Recently, when a federal judge opened up that the card games provided by Florida pari-mutuels are under a direct violation of the exclusivity agreement between the state and the Seminoles; the rift between the two groups is escalating. Moreover, the Seminoles have withheld the payment of $350 million for 2019 and further, which they used to do on a yearly basis to the state government for the privileged rights that as per the current situation haven’t remained privileged.

So, in short, the current situation in the state of Florida, as far as the legalization of online gambling is concerned, remains complex and the same might not receive legal status for few more years to come.

Should Online Casinos be made legal in Florida?

The online gambling ban in Florida has failed to curb gambling activities on the internet completely. Running a gambling website based in Florida is illegal; however, this law doesn’t stop the citizens from gambling on offshore online gambling websites. The major hindrance to this, as mentioned above, is in the form of UIGEA, but a majority of the online gambling enthusiasts have the knowledge of ways and workarounds for depositing or withdrawing money from offshore online casinos bypassing the UIGEA.

Specifically speaking, the ban on online gambling is an utter failure if we take into account how many American citizens indulge in gambling in the online black market. It is needless to say over here that gambling in the online black market puts the American citizens at an extremely high risk of theft, fraud, and addiction. The same is true for gambling in land-based casinos as well. This is happening as there are no legal options for online gambling in Florida. If the state government legalizes especially online casinos, there would be no need for the citizens to visit these unregistered black market online gambling websites, which are primarily operated by organized criminal groups. By legalizing online casinos, the government will have better and more avenues to address the threats posed by unregulated gambling. Moreover, if we go by the words of addiction specialists, online gambling is less addictive as compared to other forms of gambling.

The current need is to bring out online gambling from the shadows to the limelight by offering it a legal status thereby enabling the government to enforce strict regulations and protect the consumers from the dangers of unregulated online gambling in the black market.


From above, we can conclude that Florida must legalize online casinos like many countries have learn more here, because a ban doesn’t stop one to gamble. A ban simply moves the gambling arena from legal regulated websites to non-licensed online casinos primarily run by criminal syndicates. These illegal casinos do more harm to society than good as normal people are likely to get involved with nefarious elements of the society while trying their luck over these non-licensed online portals. 

So, the best option is to legalize, provide the people the entertainment that they require, and simultaneously pass regulations for the same protecting the consumers from any kind of fraudulent activity. By making online gambling a fair and honest business like in many countries, the state government itself is on the gaining side as the tax money collected from these online casinos will become an additional source of finance for the government and the same can be utilized for the overall good of the society. 


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