Online poker is one of the top games in the United States. The beautiful state of Florida ranks closely with other jurisdictions like Nevada, New Jersey, and California when it comes to wagering on poker. The game is big business in the Sunshine State. Florida residents have access to over 20 land-based poker rooms and pubs. When it comes to online poker, though, the situation is more complicated.
With a population of over 20 million residents, Florida is a prime candidate to become the capital of online poker, acting as a bridge between online poker in California and Texas. While there are several gray areas surrounding online gambling in this jurisdiction, players still have several options to wager on their favorite variant of poker on iGaming sites.
This overview will look at the legal situation for Florida online poker, how to play online poker in the state, and the best online poker sites for players in Florida.
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Is Online Poker Legal in Florida?
The legal situation regarding online poker in FL is complicated, like in many other states in the US. In the state constitution, there are no laws that regulate games in the state, yet live poker is fully allowed only in authorized card rooms.
There have been several efforts made to legalize of this popular game, without much success so far.
Timeframe of Legal Proceedings for Online Poker in Florida
House Bill 77 was first introduced in 2010 by Rep. Joe Abruzzo to provide access to interstate internet poker for Florida residents and allow them to wager with real US dollars.
The bill did not survive the Subcommittee on Business & Consumer Affairs and was killed in 2011. However, discussions continued for the next two years, influenced partly by the neighboring state Delaware’s legalization of online gambling in 2012, followed by New Jersey and Nevada in 2013.
Hopes of online poker taking off took a hit in 2014 when Gov. Rick Scott publicly declared support for the ban on all forms of internet gambling. This trend was further heightened in 2018 when residents of the Sunshine State voted on an amendment to the constitution. It gave the citizens the power to vote on any issue regarding the gambling industry in the state going forward.
This development has made any potential legalization of online poker more challenging, as it now requires a lengthy process before it can become legal in the state.
Review of Florida Online Poker Laws
FL has a lengthy history of trying to limit the bet size players can wager during poker. It means that although state legislators have been open to the idea of legalizing online poker, past records of moral obligations and political consequences may be hindering change.
In 1989, lawmakers passed a bill allowing home poker games, in private residences only, with small bet sizes. It required all ante bets to not exceed $10.
The law became more favorable towards poker when a county, Broward County, went ahead to legalize poker. It went on to house the first casino in the state (Seminole Casino Hollywood).
In 2003, more legislation became live, removing the maximum limit for poker pots. Yet, only three raises were allowed per bet round, with the maximum set at $2. This allowed for fixed-limit hold ’em, but restricted no-limit games.
Another law was passed in 2007, allowing no-limit hold ’em. As usual, there was a limit on bets. This time, it was a maximum of $100 for buy-ins.
The most recent law regarding poker was passed in July, and lifted the limit for buy-ins, allowing all FL poker players to enjoy no-limit hold ’em without restrictions on buy-ins or pot sizes.
When Will Online Poker Be Legal in Florida?
A new bill was introduced on the floor of the House, known as SBP7082. It seeks to change the mandate for regulation of online poker in the state. A crucial part will be reducing the heavy restrictions on operating a live poker room in FL. It does not say whether it will include online poker.
According to Section 849.08, all forms of gambling not regulated in the state are classified as second-degree misdemeanors.
However, the state is home to more than 20 million people, making it the third most populous state in the US. Many residents enjoy playing poker and want a way to enjoy it within state lines. The chances of opposition from land-based poker room operators may also play a huge factor in slowing down the process.
With all these factors in mind, online poker may be introduced in a bill again in the coming years. While nothing is promised yet, we will keep this page updated with the latest updates regarding the legal situation for online poker in Florida.
Online Poker for Real Money in Florida
There is no clear law that outright bans online poker in Florida, but no licensed poker sites are available within the jurisdiction. Yet, it is possible to play with real money and win cash prizes.
Since there is no restriction on banning players from enjoying online poker for real money, it is an option. Just because there are no licensed online real-money poker sites in FL does not mean there are no alternatives.
Sweepstakes and Online Social Poker in Florida
Florida residents can comfortably choose to play their choice of poker game at online sweepstake casinos. The significant difference here is that rather than making a real-money deposit, you will be offered virtual currency to play. Sweepstake poker sites also allow some offers where players can redeem their prizes and convert them to cash.
Playing on online sweepstake poker sites in FL is not illegal as it is protected by Federal law. The understanding is that there are no real-money wagers here. Hence, it is not really considered gambling. In addition, any poker tournament is free to register and play.
The sweepstake poker sites are available on the web and mobile, with minimal difference in gameplay between them and real-money poker sites.
Global Poker is one of the best online social poker casinos. This site is an excellent alternative to real-money poker sites. While no mobile app is available, you can wager from the comfort of your mobile device or PC without hindrance.
Global Poker has fantastic facilities for its customers. A dedicated welcome bonus package allows players to claim sweep coins and convert them to cash prizes where appropriate.
Getting started on the site is simple. Like the real-money poker sites, you first need to sign up. Players will have to register and fill in their first and last name, email address, date of birth, and address.
Features include top poker tournaments, sit-and-go games, cash games, and championships. Game types available here include no-limit Texas hold ’em, pot-limit Omaha, Omaha hi-lo, and crazy pineapple.
Like Global Poker, Chumba casino offers a reliable option for players to wager and win with virtual currency. Sign up and create an account, and you get gold or sweep coins included in the welcome package.
However, unlike Global Poker, which is available in all US states and many parts of Canada, Chumba Casino is only present in the US. Yet, it still packs a sizable player population you can play against.
In addition to online poker, Chumba Casino offers diverse game offers for players to enjoy. This includes online slots and table games. While there is no mobile app yet, it is possible to wager on the different poker variants from a mobile device (Android, iOS, Tablet) or PC.
Some poker game variations available on the site include sit-and-go, cash games, and tournaments.
Floridians should note that because of certain sweepstake laws in the state, the operation of these social casinos is a bit different than what is available in other states.
Online Real-Money Poker at Offshore Poker Sites: How Safe is It?
Since FL law does not regulate online poker operators in the state, players can seek options for real-money wagers on offshore poker sites operating outside the jurisdiction of the United States.
As stated, no part of Florida’s legislation stipulates legal implications for such players. However, we wouldn’t recommend playing on such platforms. Some of these sites may be licensed and regulated by other regulatory agencies, but that does not mean all of them are. FL poker lovers who decide to visit, deposit, and play on these sites are constantly at risk of losing their funds.
A significant challenge is that there is no secure way to ensure the operators of such online poker rooms are trustworthy. These offshore sites that do this cannot be held liable by US authorities. In addition, no one knows if the games are tested for fairness by reputable gaming bodies like eCOGRA. Such sites that are suspected can’t be reported.
It makes sense to want to enjoy online poker in Florida and win real-money prizes, but the risk of getting scammed at suspicious online sites makes it challenging to trust any site at all.
Top Poker Game Types Popular in Florida
Due to the enormous love for poker, there are several varieties to play online. With the availability of some Florida online poker sites, a few games have become more popular than the rest. Here are some of the top poker game types on Florida iGaming sites.
Texas Hold ’em
First on the list is Texas hold ’em. Even non-poker players know this game type. This is further heightened by its feature in the World Series of Poker events. Playing this game does not require much finesse. Players can wager on the game with two cards dealt in a face-down position. Five additional cards are placed as community cards on the table in the middle.
The mission here is to make the best poker hand. Four betting rounds occur, called the preflop, flop, turn, and river.
Like hold ’em, Omaha has hole and community cards that you can use to build your poker hand. Four hole cards and five community cards are issued. However, players must form a poker hand with two hole hands. This is a big difference from Texas hold’em, allowing players to make a hand with either one or two hole cards. If you prefer, all hole cards can be discarded, and a poker hand can be created with the community cards. Regarding the betting rounds, Omaha has similar streets to hold ’em.
At the start of a seven-card stud, the croupier deals three cards each, two face-down and one face-up. Play begins after players place an ante bet. More betting rounds follow each street as the next cards are issued face-up. The last street or river card (the seventh card) is dealt in a face-down position, and the betting round begins.
A favorite feature of seven-card stud that makes it enjoyable for players is that it is played with the well-known poker hand rankings used in hold ’em. However, this poker game type is not as popular for Florida online poker players as it is not featured on Global Poker. However, some land-based poker rooms offer it.
Almost all online poker lovers wager at one tournament or another. Multi-table tournaments have become the go-to for poker competitions. Here are some of the top poker tournaments available on Global Poker and played by Floridians.
- Multi-table Tournaments (MTTs): these contests admit many players, up to hundreds. With an online poker MTT, the number of players accepted is unlimited, with a high prize pool that is fixed. This gives players a sense of what they’re playing for since the predetermined prize pool is usually displayed.
- Freeroll: this tournament type does not require any fee. However, the prize pool is smaller and only available to the top table leaders. The freeroll tournament is featured as part of promotions.
- Satellites: the satellite tournament is an initial entry to higher online poker contests. It is generally played by players with a small bankroll who still want to enjoy tournaments. As expected, Global Poker features plenty of satellites, another reason why it is popular among Florida online poker players who want to wager at bigger tournaments but do not have the required entry minimum bet.
- Sit-and-go’s: another popular online poker game type that begins once all slots have been filled. A regular feature of this contest type is it is available on a single table with a maximum of nine or ten players. This does not mean there are no multi-table sit-and-go tournaments, though.
Online Poker Bonuses
Like most other online games, poker in Florida comes with bonuses players can enjoy. Part of the bonus is available in the form of free money after successfully creating an account.
Since Global Poker and Chumba casino are the only sites that offer a chance of converting virtual currency benefits to real cash, players can comfortably get higher chances when they purchase higher amounts of sweep coins.
It is possible to claim the bonuses at Global Poker after signing up. The process is simple and requires basic details from the player. These include name, email, address, phone number, and a unique username and password.
As part of security measures, players may also be required to submit extra documents. This could be a government-issued ID like a driver’s license or other vital identifications. Once your account is created successfully, gold coins will be credited to your bonus account.
With the sweep coins, your chances of getting better cash prizes increase. Proceed to the cashier section to purchase gold coins. Sweep coins will be offered as part of your deposit’s bonus.
Criteria to Select the Best Online Poker Sites in Florida
As we have stated, looking at alternative options to play online poker for real money in Florida is allowed. The Florida Gaming Control Commission does not control any site outside the jurisdiction of the state. If you decide to still play, we have some tips to help you choose the right poker site to play on.
License and Security
The first and most important feature is confirming the license of such an iGaming platform. A license means the operator is bound by a regulatory body to follow industry best practices and not cut corners.
Some top regulatory agencies with a good reputation include the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, and the Curacao Gaming Authority. To check if a poker site is licensed, scroll to the bottom of a page and find a license logo. Most operators also add a link to the license verification page.
Another essential feature is the security of the site. You risk losing all your funds if the operator does not use strong encryption. The top security protocol should be an SSL encryption framework that is kept up to date at all times.
Bonuses and Promotions
Playing at online poker sites in Florida should reward you with diverse incentives. All online poker rooms offer bonuses and promotions to entice new players and retain regular customers.
These offers include match deposits, reload offers, free tournaments, bets, and so on. A few operators provide dedicated VIP clubs as part of promotions for loyal players with specific bonuses and perks.
Confirming the wagering requirements attached to these offers is also essential. They will either be listed on the promotions page or in the terms and conditions section. A sign of a risky site is that the playthrough terms are hard, strict, or must be completed within a short time frame.
Selection of Poker Game Varieties
Another significant feature to watch out for is the games collection. Playing on a site with various poker game types is excellent since you’ll have access to different gameplay styles and paytables, offering an increased chance of winning bigger cash prizes.
The game selection can be easily verified by scrolling through the available options.
The availability of popular and reliable payment methods should also be a priority. It means the site is serious about your financial information and doesn’t want to risk losing data to hackers online. The higher the number of reputable banking options, the lower the risk of being scammed.
Here are essential options you should consider:
- Bank transfer
- Bank cards
Another important tip is to confirm the minimum and maximum limits for deposits and withdrawals. This allows you to know if the amount allowed is within your bankroll budget or not. The processing times should also be confirmed. Usually, deposits should be processed instantly. Withdrawals vary, depending on the method you choose.
This vital information can be accessed on the site’s terms and conditions page. Signing up on an offshore poker site where this information is not present is not recommended.
How to Play Online Poker in Florida
Ready to begin playing? Here’s how to start wagering on your favorite poker game type.
Choose a Poker Site and Sign Up
Since there are no legal online poker sites in Florida, you can settle for sweepstakes or social casinos. Global Poker is available in the Sunshine State and provides an option to accept real-money deposits.
Once you’ve chosen your desired site, register or sign up. As stated, players need to submit identification before being allowed to complete the registration. Fill in the required information and click on submit.
Usually, the gold coins are deposited in your bonus account immediately after signing up. If other bonuses are available, it may be a good time to claim them directly after signing up.
Proceed to your Favorite Table and Start Playing
Once your gold coins are successfully deposited, it is time to start working on your poker hand. Navigate to the games collection and click on the game you wish to play. If it is a tournament, don’t forget to read through the table rules before joining.
In the case of an offshore poker site, a real-money deposit may be required before you can start playing.