Why Online Casinos Aren’t Legal in Florida

Space Coast Daily
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With US states changing their opinion regarding online gambling in recent years, the iGaming industry is burgeoning in the country. In many states, gamblers now have access to convenient, safe, and enjoyable online gambling entertainment from a variety of suppliers.

Florida, however, is not one of these states. 

Despite having a decent gambling culture among residents and being home to several incredible casinos, the Sunshine State does not allow any online casinos in the region. Many believe this is due to government legislation, but the truth is not so cut and dry.  

Tribal Casinos

Casinos in Florida have been around since their legalization in 2004. After a successful vote to amend the constitution—thereby allowing slot machines in existing pari-mutuel facilities (such as bingo halls)—gamblers in the state were given new opportunities to try their luck. 

All casinos within the state are owned and operated by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians or the Seminole Tribe—the latter group being particularly famous for its casinos. Under local law, only these two operators (or other tribal groups) may operate any casino within the state’s boundaries. 

This is due to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGR) that was passed in 1988. This federal law makes provision for the establishment of tribal casinos in various states across the country. However, at the same time, it also somewhat limits the ability of other operators to join the market. 

Over 35 years later, the IGR remains the only law in place within the state to authorize gambling. Therefore, gambling can only be undertaken when on tribal lands at a casino operated by an Indian tribe and regulated by the Florida Gaming Control Commission

Online Casinos

As with many other states, Florida has been considering legalizing online casinos ever since their popularity exploded internationally over the last decade. However, establishing a regulatory framework for these casinos has not been simple. 

The main reason for this is due to the existing market that the Seminole Tribe dominates. Due to their current ownership of the industry in the state, the Tribe is active in litigation to block new operators’ entry into the market. 

With this litigation playing such a significant role, all plans to create a legal framework to legalize online casinos have been placed on hold indefinitely. However, as the demand from companies seeking to operate in the Florida casino market grows, many are hopeful that an agreement will soon be reached with local tribes that will allow for new online casinos to begin offering services. 

Until this happens, however, gamblers in the state are confined to visiting one of the many land-based casinos currently available if they wish to gamble according to law. That said, there are other alternatives available to players.  

Alternative Online Gambling

Although not encouraged, players in Florida yearning for the benefits of an online casino can access offshore casinos. Many great internationally operated casinos accept players from the region and offer unique rewards and bonuses to keep them coming back for more. 

For those worried about the legality of accessing these casinos, there is good reason to be concerned. Under the 2023 Florida Statutes, the law states explicitly that playing any game of chance online using any device is punishable by a fine. 

Therefore, players seeking to use offshore providers do so at their own risk and should always ensure they only select a trustworthy provider, as there is no path for legal recourse should they fall prey to a scam. Finding a reputable casino can be done easily by ensuring the site is appropriately licensed by an oversight body, has a strong track record, and has a history of satisfied players. 

As an alternative to playing online casino games, state residents can also get the thrill of gambling by using one of the many social casinos in the state or by placing wagers on sporting events. 

Online Sports Betting

Passed in 2021, the Florida Seminole Gaming Compact (FSGC) was a bill that legalized online sports betting in the state. The bill came around due to an agreement with the local government and the Seminole Tribe that states online sports betting will be offered with the condition that the servers running any sportsbook website are located on tribal lands. 

Shortly after the bill was passed, Hard Rock Bet, a sports betting platform operated by the Seminole Tribe, was made available. Although it finally permitted residents to place bets online, the platform only lasted one month before a court interdict forced its removal.

The interdict was brought forward by a group of betting companies called the West Flagler Associates. Citing that the FSCG was in contravention of the IGR and the Wire Act, the group said that the ability to allow legal sports betting should rest solely on a majority vote by citizens. 

In June 2023, the District Court of Appeals overruled the interdict that stopped the launch of online sports betting platforms. A few months later, in December, sports betting was officially relaunched online and in physical Seminole-run casinos—despite the legal issues surrounding the activity still being ironed out

As such, gamblers looking to try their luck at sports betting now have access to legal online options and can enjoy the thrill countless others internationally are experiencing. 


Although online casinos would undoubtedly boost Florida’s economy, bring more accessible gambling to players, and help the industry grow, it seems gamblers will need to wait to enjoy these platforms. Many hope that the government will reach an agreement with the Seminole Tribe regarding online casinos in the same manner it reached its agreement regarding sports betting.

Until then, players must rely on social casinos or the thrill of sports betting to get their fix.