Online Poker Legal in Florida

Florida Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Florida?

In The Sunshine State, poker is not a specifically prohibited game, though there are plenty of restrictions about how you play the game. Florida citizens enjoy plenty of options for casino and card gaming, including legal home games (under the right conditions) as well as the right to play poker in live casinos run by Native Americans. Online poker appears to be on its way to becoming legal and state-regulated by the government of Florida, and many poker players in the state have figured out ways to move their poker games off-shore to get around what Florida poker laws do exist.

Home Poker Games & Florida Law

Unlike some states in the USA, private home poker games are specifically outlined in the Florida Penal Code. If you read Chapter 849 of state law, it plainly states that a person is “guilty of a charge of the third degree if he owns or operates a house or room for the purpose of gambling or gaming,” unless, and this is crucial for home game legality, it is simply a penny-ante game.

Yes, Florida limits home card games to penny antes only, but they must also limit their pot sizes to a $10 maximum. Also, everyone participating must be at least eighteen years old, and there is the familiar American restriction against charging any sort of entry fee, participation fee, or pot-raking. For poker players in Florida who want to wager at higher limits, know that not a single case has ever been filed against a citizen for playing at higher-stakes poker games, so it appears unlikely that Florida authorities would attempt to shut down a private home poker game, as long as it doesn’t involve organized crime.

Florida Casino Poker Law

As of July 2007, the Florida Legislature changed their minds about casino poker through State Bill 782. That bill cleared up existing language about the legality of card gaming in state casinos. Now that this law is in effect, public poker rooms and land-based casinos are allowed to offer higher limits than home games. Before this bill passed, even casino poker in Florida was limited to penny-ante play. Now, the rules state specifically that “Poker rooms can operate for any 12-hour period of the day . . . with limits of $2 per betting round allowed . . . and bet limits of up to $5 at a time.”

Florida card gamers have a legal loophole they can take advantage of in order to play poker at higher limits: casino boats that head out to sea where Florida law is not in effect. These ships vary in size, but generally carry a few hundred players three miles east into the Atlantic Ocean or nine miles west into the Gulf of Mexico. Once anchored at these distances, poker games can commence without any concerns about state law.

Learn About Other State Laws

Online Poker Legality in Florida

Online poker is not explicitly illegal in Florida, and in fact, a law exists that could soon make intrastate and interstate Internet gambling legal and state-regulated. You will not be punished by the state for playing poker online, though some people argue that the federal government still has a vested interest in stopping this form on online gaming. If you’re concerned about the legality of your home or Internet poker game, consult a lawyer familiar with the Florida Penal Code.

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