Real-Money Casinos: From Riverboats and Online Apps to Indian Casinos

What are the best casinos in Florida? Are online casinos legal in Florida? Get the answers to these questions and more in our guide to Florida gambling laws.   

Are Real Money Casinos Legal in Florida?

Yes, is the simple answer. However, in practice, the reality is a little more nuanced. Although the push to regulate sports betting is likely to facilitate the launch of real online casinos in Florida, the current dynamics are such that gaming can only take place in specific settings. Before we outline where you can find real money casinos in Florida, here’s a quick overview of the state’s regulations.

Are Casinos Legal in Florida?

Yes, but only in certain cases. Thanks to pari-mutuel betting laws, racetracks can offer certain types of casino games. They’re known as pari-mutuel games because players aren’t competing against the house. Instead, bets go into a prize pool that gets divided up amongst the winning players. The same system is used for pari-mutuel sports betting.

Therefore, in Florida, racinos can offer pari-mutuel betting on horse racing and greyhound racing. They can also offer poker because, by its nature, it’s a pari-mutuel game. So, while you might not be able to play blackjack et al in racinos, there are ways to play real-money games at racetracks in Florida.

Florida law in action
Credit: Shutterstock

Indian Casinos in Florida

The other way to play for cash prizes in the Sunshine State is through tribal casinos. Indian casinos in Florida have a special exemption that allows them to offer betting options not covered by pari-mutuel laws. This exemption is thanks to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This federal law gave all Native American tribes the power to create their own gambling regulations.

Casinos must be situated on tribal land. Therefore, you’ll find an Indian casino in Miami FL owned by the Miccosukee Tribe. You can also find a casino in Tampa Florida owned by the Seminole Tribe. There are many more Indian casinos in Florida that we’ll outline later in this article. For now, just know that tribal gaming laws mean that real-money casinos are legal in Florida. What’s more, when Florida legal online casinos launch, they’ll be linked to these land-based establishments.

Riverboat Casinos in Florida

The final way to play roulette et al in Florida is to use riverboat casinos. These boats sail out a few miles off the coast so they can offer real-money casino games. Basically, because they’re offshore, the boats aren’t subject to the same laws as land-based casinos in Florida. Therefore, you can jump on a Jacksonville casino cruise, for example, and play slots, poker, blackjack, roulette, and more.

Is Florida Online Casino Real Money Gaming Available?

As of 2023, the words “real online casino Florida” weren’t compatible. To put it another way, online casinos weren’t legal in Florida. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t play certain casino games online. What’s more, given the efforts to regulate sports betting, the odds are that you’ll soon be able to find online casinos in Orlando Florida, as well as every other town and city in the state.

Online gambling florida

What Are My Options if Real-Money Online Casino Gaming Isn’t Legal?

In lieu of Florida online casino real money gaming becoming a regulated activity, you can use social gaming platforms. These sites use federal sweepstakes laws that permit casino gaming online, as long as customers don’t make cash bets.

Instead, sweepstakes casinos in Florida allow you to play with onsite credits. These credits are often known as sweeps and they’re available in one of two ways. You can purchase packs of sweeps, or you can get them for free (at set time intervals). We’ll explain the nuances of sweepstakes casinos later on in this guide. So, for now, just know that there are Florida legal online casinos but they don’t currently accept real-money bets.

Are There Gambling Laws in Florida?

Before we dive deeper into the complexities of online casino Florida gaming laws, here’s a quick regulatory timeline:

1931: The state legalized betting on horse and dog racing. The initial bill was vetoed by Governor Doyle Carlton, but this was subsequently overturned.

1935: Slot machines were legalized, as was betting on the sport of jai alai.

1937: Slot machines were made illegal.

1970: Bingo halls/games were legalized.  

1978: A bill to make Florida casinos legal, including on tribal land, was rejected by voters.

1979: The Seminole Tribe opens its first high-limit bingo hall in Broward County.

1986: Lottery games were legalized in Florida. The first tickets went on sale in 1988.

1988: The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passes. This made Indian casinos in Florida legal.

1989: Low limit poker games (held at home) were legalized.

1996: Pari-mutuel racetracks and racinos were allowed to offer small stakes poker.

2003: Betting limits for poker games at pari-mutuel venues were increased.

2004: Slot machines were authorized at pari-mutuel tracks and racinos.

2007: No limit poker games were legalized and betting limits across all games were increased.

2010: Governor Charlie Crist agrees to let the Seminole Tribe offer slots and casino games outside of pari-mutuel facilities.

2021: The state and the Seminole Tribe agree to a pact that regulates sports betting in Florida. This pact is expected to make Florida online casino real money gaming legal.

Where Can I Play Real Money Casino Games in Florida?

OK, so we’ve established that real-money casinos are available in Florida. The question, therefore, becomes, where can you play slots, blackjack, roulette, and other games? We can’t list every racino because there are too many.

However, if you want to play pari-mutuel card games, some of the best places to go are Daytona Beach Kennel Club, Tampa Bay Downs and Silks Poker Room, and the casino near Destin FL, Ebro Greyhound Park and Poker Room.

In addition to Florida’s racinos, you can visit these gaming venues:

Indian Casinos in FloridaAddressHoursGames and Facilities
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center500 SW 177th Ave, Miami, FL 33194Sun-Thurs: 9am to 2am Fri & Sat: 9am to 4amSlots, bingo, poker, golf, events
Seminole Casino Brighton17735 Reservation Rd, Okeechobee, FL 3497424 hoursSlots, table games, bingo, restaurants, events
Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee506 S 1st St, Immokalee, FL 3414224 hoursSlots, table games, loyalty scheme, hotel, bars
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek    5550 NW 40th St, Coconut Creek, FL 3307324 hoursSlots, table games, loyalty scheme, poker, social online casino
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, FL 3331424 hoursPartnership with Hard Rock, slots, table games, poker, hotel
Seminole Classic Casino4150 N State Rd 7, Hollywood, FL 3302124 hoursSlots, table games, bars, dining, entertainment

All of the above casinos have the right to offer social online gaming. What’s more, they’ll be the land-based partners of any Florida online casino real money apps. This means you’ll be able to enjoy a synergistic experience whereby the games you can play online are also available online. Add to this loyalty schemes that cross the live/online divide and you can see why the best casinos in Florida are crucial to the evolution of the state’s online gambling industry.

Alternatives to Real-Money Casinos Online: Sweepstakes Gaming

Social online casinos offer ways to play blackjack et al in Florida without spending a cent. Indeed, based on the current laws, real-money online casinos aren’t legal. However, there’s nothing wrong with playing for free. Therefore, you can use social casinos to make bets with play money chips. These betting tokens don’t have any real-world value, but they do allow you to enjoy a realistic gaming experience without the cost.

That’s one way to play casino games online in Florida. The other way to play is via sweepstakes casinos. These apps also offer free games. However, you also have the option to purchase tokens. The free tokens (known as sweeps or coins) are credited to your account at set time intervals. For example, you might receive 10 sweeps every 12 hours. These tokens can be used to play any of the casino’s games.

Sweepstakes tickets all over
Credit: Shutterstock

You can also purchase sweeps. It’s typically the case that sweeps will be sold in packs. For example, you can pay $10 and receive 100 sweeps. Again, these tokens can be used to play any of the casino’s games. Therefore, you have the option to either play without spending a cent, or you can add to your bankroll by purchasing tokens.

The first part of this equation is important. Sweepstake casinos must have a no purchase necessary policy. In essence, they have to offer free tokens to comply with federal sweepstakes laws. Assuming they do that, there’s nothing wrong with also offering customers the chance to get extra tokens by paying for them.

Sweepstake Casino Prizes

The final thing you need to know about sweepstakes casinos is that you can win stuff. Sweepstakes prizes can come in many forms, including money. However, if you’ve been to another US state and played online casino games, the withdrawal process will be a little different than what you’ve seen before.

Instead of being able to withdraw cash amounts of your choosing, sweepstakes casinos have prize packages. You have to exchange your tokens for these packages. The contents of these packages can vary. Some online sweepstakes casinos offer gifts. Others offer vouchers and cash transfers. Whatever the prize package contains, you have to use tokens to get it.

For example, the Florida online sweepstake casino you’re using might allow you to exchange 500 tokens for a $10 gift card. Once you’ve made the exchange, you input your details and the gift card will be sent to you. Or, if it’s a cash prize, the money will be sent to a permitted banking method. So, as you can see, sweepstakes sites do give you the chance to play online casino games in Florida. Moreover, they give you a chance to win prizes.

Why You Should Only Use Legal Casinos in Florida

Something that’s important to understand with any form of gambling in Florida should be legal. That means you shouldn’t use unlicensed or unregulated casinos or sportsbooks. So, let’s say you’d heard that a company had just opened a new casino in Panama City, Florida. You’ve never heard of the company before, but people are saying it offers slots, table games, bingo, and poker.

Everything sounds great, right? Wrong. Unless this company is licensed by the state of Florida or it’s on tribal land, it’s illegal. It’s the same with online casinos. You might be looking for casinos near Pensacola Florida, and someone tells you there’s a mobile app offering slots. You like the sound of it, but you discover that it offers unlicensed real-money games.

Again, based on what we know about Florida online casino real money gambling laws, unlicensed apps are illegal. Therefore, if a casino isn’t licensed, regardless of whether it’s available online or it’s land-based, you shouldn’t use it. Not only are you breaking the law, but you’re also running the risk of losing your money.

Unlicensed casinos don’t provide any guarantees with regard to security, game integrity, or payouts. That means you could be used to an app that’s susceptible to hackers or you could be playing unfair games. Whichever way you look at it, unlicensed casinos are a risk and should be avoided at all costs.

How to Spot an Unlicensed Casino

You can use the following checklist to establish whether or not a casino is legal in the state of Florida:

Is the casino on tribal land and regulated by a Native American tribe, such as the Seminole Tribe? If it’s not, it could be illegal.

Is the casino on a riverboat that’s located off the shoreline? If it’s not, it could be illegal.

Does the casino offer real-money online games? If it’s not a social or sweepstakes casino, it could be illegal. This will change when Florida legalizes real-money online casino gaming. However, when this happens, only companies with a local license will be legal. Therefore, you’ll need to check the state’s licensing database or scroll down to the bottom of the app’s homepage to see if it has a Florida online casino real money license.

Responsible Gaming

  • Wherever you play, whatever games you choose, gambling should always be fun. You should never risk more than you can afford. It doesn’t matter what the prize is or how many loyalty rewards you can earn by staking a certain amount. If the limits aren’t suitable, nothing is worth risking your bankroll for.
  • In practice, this approach is known as bankroll management and responsible gambling. Before we highlight some of the responsible gambling tools offered by the best casinos in Florida, let’s explain what we mean by bankroll management. In simple terms, this means wagering amounts that align with the size of your bankroll.
  • Specifically, you should risk more than 5% of your bankroll in a single session. So, if you’ve got $1,000 in spare cash that you’re happy to use as a casino bankroll, the most you should take into a game is $50. From this $50, you need to size your bets accordingly. A good strategy here is to wager between 5% and 10% of your starting stack.
  • In this example, that means you’ll bet between $2.50 and $5 per round. These may seem like small amounts, but they’re not in context. Casino gaming is filled with ups and downs. Because of this, you need to bet conservatively so that you can survive the lows and ride the highs.

Responsible Gambling Tools You Can Use to Stay in Control

Once you’ve mastered the art of bankroll management, you can exercise more control over your betting activity by using responsible gambling tools. Some of the best resources available at any land-based or online casino Florida has to offer are:

  • Personalized deposit limits.
  • Personalized betting limits.
  • Personalized time limits (you can limit the amount of time you can use an online casino app for).
  • Reality Checks (pop-up messages that tell you how long you’ve been playing for).
  • Timeouts so you can take a break from gaming.
  • Self-exclusion (block access to your casino account forever).
  • Contact details for problem gambling organizations, such as the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling – 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848).

The Best Casino Games to Play Live or Online

Everyone has their favorites when it comes to casino gaming. Some people like the thrill of slots, while others prefer the test of skill that blackjack presents. The point here is that the best casinos in Florida will offer games to suit all tastes.

What’s more, they’ll offer betting limits to suit all bankrolls. It doesn’t matter if you want to wager $0.50 per round or $100, you can spend as much or as little as your bankroll allows. So, with this in mind, here are some of the great games you can play at Florida’s legal land-based and online casinos:

  • Video slots
  • Progressive jackpot slots
  • Blackjack, including Vegas rules, Switch, and side-bet games
  • Roulette, including American, French, and European
  • Baccarat
  • Casino poker, including Hold’em and Stud
  • Video poker, including Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker
  • Bingo
  • Poker
  • Card games, including casino war

Florida Casino Gaming: A Recap

There’s a lot to digest when it comes to casino gaming in Florida. The history of gambling laws in Florida means that the legal landscape isn’t as clear as it is in other states. However, if you can remember these key points, you’ll always be on the right side of the law. Moreover, you’ll be able to enjoy the best casino gaming experience possible.

Real-money casinos are legal. Florida’s gambling laws allow Native American tribes to offer real-money casino games, slots, bingo, and poker on Indian land.

Riverboat casinos are legal. You can sail offshore and play a variety of real-money games. For example, you can join a casino cruise from Fort Lauderdale and play blackjack, roulette, and slots before returning to shore.

Social and sweepstakes casinos are legal. You can play online casino games for free in Florida. As long as there’s no purchase necessary, it’s possible to play sweepstakes casino games and exchange tokens for prizes, including cash.

Online casino gaming will be legal. There will be Florida legal online casinos in the future. These apps will be linked to online sportsbooks as well as land-based casinos within the state.

Florida Casinos FAQ’s

  • Are online casinos legal in Florida?
  • What is the legal gambling age in Florida?
  • What are the best casinos in Florida?
  • Does Florida have any casinos?
  • How can I gamble in Florida?
  • Are real-money casinos legal in Florida?