Gambling regulations vary significantly across countries around the world, as well as within individual states in the US where the differences in approach from place to place can be especially stark.
So what is Florida’s stance on this pastime and how do the state-approved regulations stack up against other regions?
Like the majority of states, there are fairly significant restrictions in place in Florida when it comes to land-based gambling.
The only places where casinos can operate legally in the state are lands belonging to native American tribes. The most significant concentration of casinos can be found on reservations occupied by the Seminole tribe, meaning that most Floridians need to make a trip specifically to visit these regulated gambling houses.
There were some workarounds that people found to gamble in Florida without incurring the wrath of the authorities, chiefly by taking cruise ships out from Miami and into international waters to allow all sorts of unmitigated wagering. However, since these were banned in 2016, locals and visitors to the state’s most famous city have been limited to playing slots at the handful of pseudo-casinos that do have licenses to operate within its borders.
Other restrictions on once-legal gambling practices have also been rolled out in recent years, including a ban on greyhound racing which caused controversy. Horse racing and associated gambling activities is still legal, with venues across the state offering this experience, so long as bets are placed on-site.
Like many other states, the way that regulations in Florida relate to online gambling is somewhat ambiguous. It is neither expressly prohibited for people to play at any online casino in Canada or any other overseas territory has to offer, but neither is it definitively permitted.
One certainty is that running an online casino which is based in Florida itself is not currently legal. This is why players need to look to sites that are hosted and run in other parts of the world if they want to get their fill of web-based gambling action.
Of course, this all means that Floridians can play almost any game they want online using their smartphone or tablet, including everything from slots titles to table games like poker and blackjack. And with so many competing casino sites to consider, this gap in the regulations allows for plenty of wiggle room.
At a time when Florida seems to be clamping down on gambling activities, at least in their land-based form, the rest of the US is undergoing something of an upheaval, or at least an anticipation of possible changes to come.
This is all based on a Supreme Court ruling made in 2018 which effectively meant that an outright ban on sports betting was not something that could be enforced at a federal level. In short, this gave states the power to decide for themselves whether or not they should open things up and let citizens and visitors place wagers on the outcome of sporting events.
So far, Florida and a number of other southern states have not yet pursued this avenue. This is not solely because of ideological opposition to sports betting, even though there is a degree to which this is the motivation; it also comes down to business.
Because of the way that gambling is regulated and parcelled out in Florida already, any significant change like this would ruffle the feathers of existing operators, especially those found on tribal land. Some argue that this might lead to a domino effect towards state-wide legalization, which would have its own social problems even if it also led to a windfall in terms of taxation.
Time will tell whether Florida decides on a regulatory shake-up in relation to gambling, and which way this shift might tip.