The State of Florida possesses one of the most straightforward and comprehensive gambling laws, contained in Chapter 849 of the Florida Statutes.
In Florida, gambling is illegal, unless it falls under any of the several exceptions that the statutes provide for. These exceptions notwithstanding, it is illegal to engage in any game of chance for money or other thing of value and doing so results in one being guilty of second-degree misdemeanor. The said misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Offline Gambling In Florida
1. Penny-Ante games
Penny-ante games are one of the gambling exceptions in Florida. These are games of poker, hearts, dominoes, mah-jongg, pinochle, bridge, rummy or canasta for which winnings of a single game, round or hand of play do not exceed $10 or anything of equivalent value.
This exception is valid only if;
• There’s no fee charged to participate in the game
• The game doesn’t include persons under 18 years of age
• The game is played within the residence or residential area of one of the participants, who should not receive any direct or indirect commissions for hosting the game.
The next exception is with the lottery. With exception to the state lottery, running or taking part in lotteries are prohibited, and so is possessing any lottery-related material or equipment.
Taking part in the game of bingo is also legal if it is held by a licensed non-profit, charitable or veterans organization.
Pyramid sales schemes and clubs, as well as referral selling where a rebate or discount is given before the actual purchase by the buyer, are also considered as lotteries and are hence illegal.
3. Licensed card rooms
Authorized games of poker or dominoes can also be legally played in Florida if they’re played in a non-banking manner and within a licensed card room.
These rooms are regulated by The Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and can be operated with a license, and strict compliance with the corresponding gambling laws.
Online gambling In Florida
The Statutes make no mention of the online or internet and hence place no restrictions on gambling that takes place there. However, this doesn’t automatically make it legal. This issue remains a favorite one for debate.
In prohibiting gambling, the law does use the phrase “by any place, by any device whatever,” so that is left to individual interpretation of whether the internet is covered here.
Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin gambling
As there is no mention of online gambling, we naturally wouldn’t expect any mention of crypto-currencies.
Whether cryptocurrencies are considered “a thing of value” is also an issue of debate, but even if it was, the fact that online gambling is itself is not definitive leaves this issue in a similar fate.
Gambling Age restrictions in Florida
In regulating the legalized card rooms and bingo games, no person of under 18 years is permitted to engage in either activity, or obtain a license to operate the same. Permitting minors or persons under guardianship to engage in gambling activities is also illegal.
The Florida gambling laws are among the most comprehensive and elaborate gambling in comparison to other states. The laws are also quite flexible as they make for several exceptions and seem to be more lenient by providing for licensed card rooms.