Florida Legal Poker Sites

Florida StateFor many years, poker in Florida was held back by the maximum bet of $2. All this changed in 2008, when this bet was raise to $100 (for both poker and casino games), allowing poker rooms to flourish. The big action nowadays is found on the native lands of the Seminole tribe, who have teamed up with big brands like the Hard Rock to bring commercial gambling to Florida.

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This page covers poker games in Florida from several different angles. First of all, live casino poker rooms are looked at – including the famous ‘cruises to nowhere’. Next you’ll find a run-down of the social poker scene in FL, including home games, bar leagues and charity events. After that online poker games are looked at, including offshore poker sites. At the bottom of this page you can find some information from the FL statute books, followed by an overview of the current situation and quick look at possible future scenarios.

Live Poker Games In Florida

Residents of Florida have a huge choice of casino poker rooms located in native casinos around the State. These range from mid-sized and perfectly functional, right through to the huge rooms and luxury surroundings of the two Hard Rock casinos in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.  Many of the rooms share venues with Jai-Alai courts – while others are associated with greyhound racing venues.

Some of the biggest poker tournament events in the country have stops in Florida, including the World Poker Tour, World Series Circuit and Card Player Tour. These are in addition to many local events with prestigious high buy in tournaments – and of course the weekly schedules of many different venues. You can find a ton of cash game action if tournaments are not your preferred format.

Social Poker – Are Home Games Legal Here?

Home games are carved out under Florida law, though these have to be very small stakes. In addition to the ‘nobody profits from running the games’ rule, you’ll find that profits of more than $10 are explicitly illegal. The idea of this law is to keep penny-games legal, while discouraging bigger games. It does feel like the amount should be upped in line with inflation though – maybe $100 or $200 would be more realistic these days.

Bar leagues are huge in FL, with a lot of free-to-enter games which give out real prizes (albeit mostly small ones). These are fun, social games with the standard of play best described as ‘recreational’. The bars make money by selling more food and drink, which enables them to give real money prizes to the winners. Charity poker tournaments often take place here too, with the winner’s prizes often donated by sponsors, rather than coming from the donated entry fees.

Online Poker In The State Of Florida

Online poker games are not legal in Florida. This activity was banned in recent legal changes which were designed to crack down on internet café casinos. These setups charged people for time on a computer, where they could play games with real money prizes. They exploited a loophole in the law that was shut with a blanket ban on gambling activity using computers and networks. According to legal experts, the wording in the new laws is so bad that merely owning any device which could potentially be used for gambling is against the law here. This means everyone owning a smartphone, computer or tablet in the entire State is a criminal.

Meanwhile there are several offshore poker rooms who continue to offer their games to Florida residents. These sites are based in locations where gambling is legal in the Caribbean and are happy to accept deposits from US players from many States. Playing is at your own risk, though there are no records of individual players being targeted by the enforcement agencies.

There is no reason why Florida could not one day regulate online poker. This could depend on the tribal interests who control most gambling today, and would presumably need to see effective revenue generation from the early adopter States first.

What Do The Florida Gambling Statutes Say?

The books have stayed pretty much unchanged since the 1800’s when the laws were formed. While the key definition does specify games of chance, card games are covered – meaning it is unlikely that the ‘skill game’ defense for poker would be effective.

Here is the main definition of illegal gambling games, this comes from Chapter 849 of the Florida Statutes:

…any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor…

Florida Poker – Summing It Up

This is a gambling friendly State thanks to the card rooms at tribal casinos are racetracks. Some of the biggest poker events in the world make it here, and millions of residents enjoy poker games either at card rooms or in social (home or bar) games regularly.

Florida make internet gambling (including poker) illegal, via a crackdown on an unrelated activity of internet café casinos. Once there is significant revenue generated at online poker sites in other regulated States, there is no reason to think that FL should not at least look into this area.