Since gambling is an industry that is regulated on a state basis in the US, the legal status of casinos, sports betting, and other forms of gambling may differ from state to state. Florida is one of the states that are currently in the process of possibly expanding their gambling sector, giving locals more opportunities for casino and sportsbook betting. That said, amendments to the state law are yet to be introduced and there is no guarantee for the future of gambling in the Sunshine State.
Back in the day, Florida used to be way ahead of other states when it came to legalizing horse and greyhound racing. It was also the first state in the South to legalize lottery and is also the only state in the region to host card clubs. Florida was also among the first states in the southeast to launch casinos, following only Mississippi and Louisiana.
Unfortunately, attempts for gambling expansion have not been successful during the Great Depression years. It was in 1986 that the lottery was legalized in the state and later on the state also passed poker. Following the enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Florida also allowed tribal gambling, establishing the launch of several land-based casinos on the territories of the Seminole and the Miccosukee tribes.
In 2022, there is a chance for the current gambling scene in Florida to change, expanding the market to more than just tribal casinos. This, however, is an issue that needs the votes of residents of the Sunshine State, as well as the approval of the state lawmakers.
Gambling Regulations in Florida
Under Section 849.08 of the Florida code, any person who engages in any type of cards game, roulette, keno, faro, or other games that fall under the category of games of chance, plays for real money or another prize of value, and participates at any place on any type of device is guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor.
Despite the aforementioned section, the Florida code does not specifically mention any regulations on online gaming. What is more, residents of the Sunshine State are allowed to participate in home games. Since there are no particular actions taken against those who play online, most casino enthusiasts based in Florida resort to registering and playing on offshore casino sites. According to the state law, Floridians must be at least 21 years of age to be able to participate in casino activities, while the minimum legal age for lottery, horse and greyhound race betting, bingo, jai alai, and poker participation is 18.
Those who violate the gambling law will be penalized according to Sections 775.082 and 775.083 of the Florida code. Under the state code, the penalties for second-degree misdemeanors include imprisonment of no more than 60 days or serving probation of 6 months. Another penalty that individuals who have broken the law may face includes a fine of $500.
Gambling Taxes in Florida
The International Revenue Service (IRS) requires that all gambling winnings are subjected to taxation. This applies to every state in the US, including Florida which legally offers several forms of gambling. The tax that residents of the Sunshine State are required to pay applies to earnings accumulated by playing casino games or betting on racetracks, game shows, poker, bingo.
Gambling income should be reported in your tax return under the Other Income section on Schedule 1 – eFilelT. Depending on the amount that is won, players might be presented with the Form W-2G which indicated the value of one’s winnings and the flat rate that was withheld.
Players who win enough for a W-2G will be provided with the form by January 31 of the year that follows the year of their winnings. The usual flat tax rate that is applied to gambling winnings is 24%. Players receive W-2G if they win $1,200 or more on bingo or slots, $1,500 or more on keno, $5,000 or more on poker, $600 or more, a minimum of 300x their bet, or any amount that is subjected to taxation according to federal law. If players do not receive such a form, they need to report their winnings on their tax returns.
Currently, gambling fans residing in Florida will mostly have different options for land-based wagering. This includes poker in authorized card rooms, lottery games, and horse and greyhound race betting. As of now, casino games can only be legally played at the seven tribal casinos located in different areas in Florida.
Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the Seminole tribe and the Miccosukee tribe have been authorized to offer casino-type of entertainment to people in Florida. The Seminole tribe also had attempted to further expand its presence on the gambling market in the Sunshine State. While the tribe managed to launch a sportsbook app in November 2021, it was forced to close it after it had been in operation for only a month.
With no new laws being approved by the state, Floridians are still allowed to participate only in certain gambling activities which are conducted only at authorized land-based facilities. Meanwhile, online gambling still remains unregulated and it is unclear whether residents of Florida will be able to legally bet online any time soon.