florida-locationMichael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Jason Mercier, and current November Niner Amir Lehavot– these are just a few of the real money poker behemoths originally hailing from the Sunshine State, Florida. In fact, in six of the past seven years, at least one resident of Florida has made the WSOP Final Table at one of the poker world’s most prestigious real cash poker betting events. This is in large part due to the popularity of online poker on legal poker websites in Florida prior to Black Friday.

Since then, things have died down a bit in the Internet poker gambling world in FL. Recently implemented gambling and betting laws raise the question as to whether all forms of device driven gambling, like Internet poker betting for real cash, are technically illegal in 2018. Additionally, the state prohibits unregulated gambling in any shape, way or form meaning lawful poker websites are the only option for Florida’s poker betting fans.

Still, the state’s 26 casinos, poker rooms with Texas Hold’em games and other poker games plus multiple racetracks are physical proof that real money poker and other gambling variants are thriving. And most of the state’s gambling community is widely in favor of passing legislation that would legalize online poker and usher in a new era of legit Internet poker websites for FL citizens. Yet, while several Internet poker bills have been brought to the table, it appears as though the betting residents of Florida are going to have to wait an indefinite amount of time before taking to the virtual real money poker felt.

As it stands in 2018, gambling online in The Sunshine State raises some questions. However, with the right real money US poker site, making a wager can be done.

History Of Florida Poker Legislation

In early 2011, State Representative Joseph Abruzzo introduced an Internet poker bill entitled HB 77 that would regulate intrastate online real cash poker websites throughout the state of FL. At the time, online poker was not illegal and many people were enjoying legal Internet poker as much as they could. However, according to the UIGEA of 2006, it was against federal law for a company based in the US to operate an online poker room or real money poker website for monetary compensation.

According to Abruzzo’s proposal, the state of Florida would receive 10 percent of all revenue generated through online poker and Internet poker transactions. His goal was to pass a form of the bill by March 2011 to be implemented no later than July 1st of that year. Unfortunately, the lawful poker websites bill died in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee in April 2011 [1].

Abruzzo would try again to get his Internet gambling and poker betting bill through in 2012, but due to heavy resistance from the Seminole tribe – the largest Indian gambling interest in the Sunshine State – efforts to legalize online gambling fell short and the reality of legit poker websites disappeared. It was around the same time that FL State began cracking down on Internet café gambling. This is when players go online and access real cash poker websites in public places. In the past that was a popular way to bypass the poker laws and get a game of Texas Hold’em real money poker in!

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Can Players From Florida Play Online Poker?


As of the time of writing, real cash poker players from Florida are still permitted to register accounts on US-facing poker websites. In light of recent laws passed by the state’s government, this could change at any time. So, if you’re playing Internet poker from FL in 2018, be aware and stay up to date with the Florida government’s most recent position on whether gambling on real money poker websites is legal.

There are still a lot of online poker rooms and poker websites that accept players from the United States, but they are not accepting players from all states. If you do decide to take to the virtual Texas Hold’em poker felt, it is recommended that you take a look at our list of the best Florida Poker Sites for real money.

Is Online Poker Legal In Florida?


legal-lawWhile we are no legal authority on the subject of legit Internet poker in FL, we can say with confidence that Florida’s gambling and real money poker laws are vague, at best. Technically, there are no laws prohibiting someone from playing online poker for real cash at a poker website. However, some of the state’s laws can be interpreted to say it is illegal for FL poker players to play Internet poker.

If anything, Florida has failed to mention much of anything regarding the legality of online poker and whether gambling for real money at poker websites is legal. And although it is best to seek on the subject of Internet poker before participating in any online gambling or real money poker activity, we’ve summarized the key facets of 2018‘s gambling and real cash poker law in Florida, some of which can be interpreted to encompass online poker at poker websites:

  • According to Section 849.08, unregulated gambling in the state of Florida is illegal and considered a second degree misdemeanor. [2]
  • 849.08 goes on to state that playing cards, possibly including poker games like Texas Hold’em poker, on an unregulated device or at an unregulated facility is also illegal. Cards could be interpreted to include poker and Internet poker games, although the word “poker” is never specifically referred to.
  • Real money poker rooms are legal, but must adhere to a strict set of principles and guidelines set forth by the state.
  • Penny-ante home real cash poker games, where the winner of a hand wins no more than $10 are considered legal in so long as the poker betting game takes place at a dwelling – which can be interpreted as a place of residence. [3]

From this it can be concluded that playing online poker from a computer on poker websites, despite the location of the device, could be considered illegal. However, since no one has been prosecuted for playing online poker, it’s impossible to know how state officials would react to the issue of online poker and Internet poker play if presented before a court of law.

  • U. S. Poker Site
  • Compatibillity
  • Editor Rating
  • Deposit Bonus

HB3 – Prohibition of Simulated Gambling Devices

In early-2013 Florida passed HB3. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve paraphrased it below:

Section 849.16 indicates that machines or system[s] directly or indirectly operated by a user that can be used to play games of skill or by reason of any element of chance or any other outcome unpredictable by him or her are illegal, in so long as an exchange of real money, credit, allowance, or thing of value can be traded for.

HB3 was meant to outlaw Internet cafes where FL citizens went to play legal Internet poker in Florida. However, the language is so broad that it can be interpreted that any device, including computers, smartphones and tablets, that can be used to play on gambling and poker betting websites, are all technically illegal in 2018. [4] Absurd, we know – but that’s one way to read it.

The bill will likely be amended, and there are some that believe the new bill will include provisions outlawing Internet poker, including both off-shore real money poker websites and legal free-play Internet poker sites in the US. To support this theory, subscription-based online poker site ClubWPT.com [5] pulled out of Florida two days after the poker website gambling bill was signed into law by Governor Scott.

The Facts

The History Of Gambling In Florida



Due to the suffering that the economy endured during the early 30’s, the state of Florida legalized pari-mutuel gambling.



Gambling started to grow even more and slots were legalized in Florida.



Unfortunately, this law was revoked and slots were no longer available to play in the state of Florida.



Gambling was on the verge of growing even more throughout the state, but the referendum on granting casino gambling in Broward and Miami-Dade was defeated. This referendum was re-introduced in 1986 and 1994, resulting in the same outcome.



The Seminole Tribe made real strides in the gambling world and opened a high-stakes bingo hall on their own lad. Unfortunately, this did not conform with the state’s law but the appeal was won and the bingo hall remained open.



Finally, the referendum from previous years was passed and Broward and Miami-Dade got their casinos. This allowed them to expand their slots offerings, which would ultimately lead to more customers in the tribal casinos.



Legislature allows “No-Limit” poker to be played in live casinos. Resulting in a boom in venues throughout the state. Gambling was becoming a big thing in the state of Florida and was constantly growing in popularity.



This year saw a big decline in gambling facilities as internet cafes banned all gambling games from being accessed.

historyGambling and real cash betting, whether sanctioned by the state or not, has existed in Florida since Henry Flagler enticed high-roller real money poker betting and casino fans by erecting the landmark (and illegal) Bacchus Club casino in 1888.

In the 1920s, the underground gambling and poker betting scene in both Tampa and Miami was thriving. A game called bolita, which originated in Cuba, was the poison of choice for most real cash high-rollers gambling in FL. In the 1930s, the rise of crime bosses like Al Capone led to illicit gambling circles and real money poker games throughout the state. Stories of murder, mayhem and corrupt police officers were common, and while not all of them were true, illegal gambling and poker betting become so popular that by the 1940s popular casino games were said to be buying elections in Florida.

The Great Depression compelled Florida’s government to seek ways to raise additional revenue. Subsequently, legislation legalizing real money gambling on horse racing was passed in 1931. This marked the first time gambling in any form was legal in Florida. Four years later, slot machines became legal.

The Florida State Lottery was sanctioned in 1988 and by 2008 generated more than $4.2 billion in annual real cash gambling wagers. Lottery officials claim that in the past two decades, over $20 billion in betting profits has been collected from the lottery fund to support educational causes.

Despite this, organized crime ruled the gambling and real money poker world in Florida throughout much of the 20th century. And it wouldn’t be until 2004 that the Seminole tribe would win the battle to operate Vegas-style real cash gambling slots in the state of FL.

Since then the Indian tribe has gained the right to spread more games in its various casinos. The state has settled its differences with the tribe, in large part due to the more than $2 billion in state revenue they generate each year in real money gambling profits for the government of Florida.

In 2010, Texas Hold’em No-Limit poker and other No Limit poker games became legal in Florida’s then 23 real money poker betting rooms and all Seminole poker rooms.

Today in 2018, Florida’s online and offline gambling and Internet poker community is bustling. Over two dozen real cash legal poker rooms, more than half-a-dozen tribal gaming casinos and three horse tracks litter the highly populated, tourist friendly Sunshine State of FL.

Although the state laws seem to be in flux, US poker players in Florida do have access to Internet poker rooms that take US players.

Regulated Gambling Options In Florida

The only type of regulated gambling not offered in Florida is commercial casinos. Horse racing, slot machines and lawful real money poker card rooms are all prevalent throughout the state. Florida also offers a state lottery, Powerball, bingo and raffles (only for charity) and para-mutual gambling on top of its wide legit real cash poker gambling offerings.

The Future Of Regulated Online Gambling In Florida

HB3 has most advocates of state regulated online poker extremely concerned about the possibility of legal Internet poker websites. Some fear a scenario where HB3 will be amended to ban online poker and gambling at Internet poker websites completely. And while the Internet poker bill is certainly not the last nail in the coffin, the Seminoles will likely resist any online poker legislation making Internet poker legal unless it can be amended to not jeopardize their poker gambling earnings.

The Bottom Line

floridaIt could be a long while before proposed online poker legislation is heard by the committee in FL. Will we eventually see some sort of legalized online poker giving the Sunshine State’s gambling fans somewhere legal to play real money poker in Florida? Probably, it won’t happen soon and all bets are off on when the first legit poker websites will open their doors.

Floridians best hope might be for the federal government to come around on the issue of legal Internet poker and gambling for real cash on poker websites. Until then, FL players are encouraged to enjoy Florida’s prospering no-limit real cash poker scene, and other poker variants. It’s a good way of getting in some real cash gambling practice before legit Internet poker betting for real money eventually comes to Florida!


[1] Florida’s internet poker legislation won’t pass this session

[2] Statute 849.08

[3] Statute 849.085

[4] Did new Florida law make computers and phones illegal?

[5] ClubWPT

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