Florida is becoming a very popular place to gamble in the United States, but as with every other state in the country, the laws aren’t very clear. It is illegal for a company to run a commercial casino, which is a casino that is designed for profit (which, let’s be honest, is the point of casinos in the first place) but the law doesn’t end there. There are many loopholes which open up a wealth of possibilities, and it is these that have been used to full effect to turn Florida into one of the gambling capitals of the country.
Indian Casinos: Indian gaming laws allow for certain tribes to register and run casinos and other gambling establishments. These operate up and down the country and there are a number of them in Florida, the largest of which is the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Hollywood, FL. The Seminole are an Indian tribe with over 2.000 members, they run six other casinos in the state, including another Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Tampa. The only other Indian tribe in Florida is the Miccosukee Tribe, this tribe is related to the Seminole tribe and has several hundred members, they operate a large hotel and casino in Miami and are known to sponsor many sporting and gaming events.
The Seminole tribe signed an agreement which said they could use Class III gaming machines in their casinos, offering games such as blackjack, baccarat, pai gow poker, three card poker and more. The Miccosukee use Class II gaming machines which mimic bingo and other luck-based numbers games. Both of these tribes are also allowed to run several table games and other games, including bingo, craps, blackjack and poker, which seems to be their main attraction.
The minimum age for gambling in these casinos is 18, but players need to be at least 21 in order to play the electronic gaming machines as these have proven to be very addictive.
Casino Cruises: One way to bypass any local laws is simply to take your casino out into the open water where those laws no longer apply. This may sound like a rather sly trick to outsiders, but the fact of the matter is that US-based casinos have been doing this for decades. The boats come equipped with many tables games and slot machines —these aren’t simple ferries or rickety boats, but glamorous yachts with several floors and a whole host of amenities. These have proven to be very popular with tourists who use them to sightsee as they gamble their holiday allowances. The boats don’t go very far and the journeys typically only last a few hours, but it’s more than enough time to get your gambling fix and to enjoy the scenery as you do so.
The games on these boats vary, but if you find a big enough boat then you’ll be sure to find a wide variety on offer. There are many different companies in Florida that offer this service, and some of them (including Celebrity Cruises) own dozens of yachts and run regular trips out into the open water. The legal age for gambling applies on these boats and you also need to be at least 21 years old if you want to drink at the bar. All guests are also advised to take photo identification with them as guests are typically checked before entering and being served alcohol.
Race Tracks and Race Books: Greyhound racing and horse racing is very popular in the state and you haven’t experience the real side of Florida gambling if you haven’t won or lost a few bucks on a dog race. There are race tracks spread all across this sun-drenched side of the country and they offer a great day out for men and women of all ages.
There are race books available in some of the casinos, where you can view banks of television monitors and rows of form information in secluded rooms, but if you want a real racing experience then you should visit an actual race track and experience the action and the thrill of the sport first hand.
Florida is a very gambling friendly city. As well as the options outlined above, it’s also one of just a handful of states where lotteries are legal. Poker, often classed as a game of skill, is also available here and can be played inside the Indian casinos or on the boats. Florida is home to many great poker professionals and amateurs who love to pit themselves against each other in local casinos or home games.
Generally, if you love to gamble, and you love the sunshine, golden beaches and bronzed bodies, then Florida is the perfect destination. If you’re visiting the state just to see Disney World, then take a detour and visit the real side of the Sunshine State; mingle with the local oldies on the casino floor, test your wits against poker professionals in elegant back rooms and enjoy yourself on the deck of a multi-million dollar yacht as you sail into the nothingness of the Atlantic ocean and into gambling freedom.