Published On: Mon, Nov 9th, 2020

Is Online Gambling Regulation the Right Thing for Florida?

There have been big changes with regards to gambling regulation in the USA since 2018, when the Supreme Court invalidated a law that had banned sports betting in most states. A number of states have since then legalized and regulated sports betting, at land-based locations and online, and quite a few others, including Florida, are exploring the feasibility of doing so. 

A close up of a street sign on a pole

Description automatically generated

A Brief Overview of Gambling in Florida

Gambling has been around in Florida since the time of the Great Depression in 1932. It generates annual revenue of about $2 billion, though that number took a big hit in 2019, falling steeply to $574.65 million. There are 2 commercial casinos, 25 racinos and 8 tribal casinos. The official body responsible for regulating casino gambling in Florida is the Florida Division of Consumer Services

Legalized gambling avenues in the state of Florida include pari-mutuel betting, a state lottery that ranks 3rd nationally, land-based casino gaming, poker rooms, social gambling and cruise ship gambling. Section 849.08 of state laws doesn’t allow hosting of online casinos. The next section sheds more light on this.

Online Gambling in Florida

The operation of online gambling websites has been deemed illegal in Florida, but there is no law prohibiting people from playing at the online casinos run by overseas operators. And there are quite a few of these around; a number of them have accepted US players despite the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.

One of the strongest advocates of a continued ban on online casino gambling in Florida is Ricky Scott, the Governor of the State. To many it may come as a surprise, given that one of the biggest supporters and donors of the governor is billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson. 

Dig a little and one of the reasons for the governor’s dislike of online casinos becomes clear – Sheldon Adelson is a big player in the land-based casino establishment and Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns a number of reputed casino establishments.

The Need to Regulate Online Gambling Regulation is Right for Florida

Regulating online gambling has always been a better option in the long run than banning it, and this applies to the situation in Florida too. Here are a few reasons why it would be good for Florida. 

Prevent the Mushrooming of Illegal Online Gambling Websites

One of the most important issues that regulation addresses is the emergence of illegal online gambling sites. And this is not just theoretical assumption: back in 2018 this was actually an issue that the administration in Jacksonville faced. There were hundreds of internet cafes springing up in strip malls there – many of them operating as adult arcades – of which only 90 had obtained appropriate licensing. 

There have been other issues as well: in 2013 the FBI raided 49 internet cafes that were run by a charity based out of St. Augustine, Allied Veterans of the World. The allegations by state prosecutors were serious – they said these cafes functioned as fronts for money laundering and illegal gambling.

Make Swift, Secure and Easy Payments

One of the biggest problems that regulating online casino gambling in Florida would solve is giving you access to multiple secure and reliable payment methods. Depositing money from your bank account directly into your casino account can be tricky currently, given the situation related to gambling regulation here.

The way out would right now is to find an online casino that accepts cryptocurrency or credit cards, or use any of the limited e-wallets that the casinos accept. Regulation would change all this and ensure you are able to make payments swiftly. Until this happens, you can keep playing at US online casinos that miraculously are still able to take deposits and payout winnings!

Access Casinos Powered by the Best Vendors 

The overall online gambling landscape in the country is changing and this is reflected by the number of casino software vendors who are slowly making their way back again to the US. This is a major change compared to earlier times when only a few vendors like Real Time Gaming (RTG), Scientific Games and BetSoft Gaming catered to US players. 

Big names that are slowly making their way back to the US market include, among others, NetEnt, Playtech, Play ‘N Go and others. A direct impact of more vendors entering the Florida market will be on the number of games available to players. Currently, the casinos you get to play offer about 300 games at the most – that is the maximum number of games from RTG and the other vendors around.

Once the remaining vendors enter the Florida market subsequent to the regulation of gambling, they will be able to access all those multivendor casinos with 1000+ games that use white label gaming platforms to give you the best games from multiple vendors at one location.

Get Easy Access to Online and Mobile Sports Betting

Currently, Florida doesn’t allow online and mobile sports betting along with online casino gambling. The only exceptions when it comes to sports betting are Jai Alai betting and gambling on cruise ships. There have been numerous attempts over the years to legalize sports betting in Florida, the latest happening in 2019 with the introduction of the SB 968 bill. 

The same is the story with online and mobile casinos as well, as mentioned earlier. We need to add here that while online and mobile casino gambling and sports betting are illegal in the state currently, players do have the option of signing up with sites run by overseas operators. That is a good option to have, but it comes with its own risks. 

Banning is not the Solution

One thing is clear: the smart thing to do is legalize and regulate, not ban, online gambling in Florida. The advantages are numerous and the disadvantages nominal. All the casinos will of course need to follow the stringent guidelines laid down regarding responsible gambling and privacy policy.

As of now, all we can do is wait and hope that the regulation process takes off smoothly and is accomplished at the earliest – say by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

About the Author

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk/xfbml.customerchat.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12&autoLogAppEvents=1'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));