On Florida casinos and state gambling law
Further solidifying the state’s reputation as an American center of leisure and entertainment activity are the over two dozen casino gaming outlets in Florida. The emphasis in the Florida gambling industry, however, is on the “racino” concept: Tracks for horse or greyhound racing – Florida is currently just one of five states in which greyhound racing remains legal – may provide on-site a few hundred casino games to enjoy alongside the sport.
Where are the casinos in Florida?
Cacinos in Florida currently open for business include Derby Lane (in St. Petersburg); Flagler Dog Track and Magic City Casino (Miami); Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino (Hallandale Beach); Hialeah Park Race Track; Jacksonville Kennel Club; Melbourne Greyhound Park; Orange Park; Oxford Downs; Palm Beach Kennel Club; Pensacola Greyhound Track; Pompano Park (Pompano Beach) and the Tampa Bay Downs.
As of this writing, 11 casino outlets are open in the Sunshine State; eight of these, including both of Florida’s Hard Rock franchisees, are managed by the Seminole tribe. Tampa and Miami host three and two gaming facilities, respectively. And naturally the Broward County and Palm Beach areas make for great places for gaming entertainment as well, with 11 racinos and casinos in these regions combined. Full-on casinos in Florida include the two Seminole-operated Hard Rock outlets; Seminole Casino Big Cypres and Seminole Casino Brighton; the Casino Miami Jai-Alai; Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center; and the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach.
Due to a unique compact signed with state lawmakers, only the Seminoles have the legal right to offer most casino games. However, since Florida gambling law is fairly lax, a handful gaming houses calling themselves “casinos” have opened in the eastern bit of the state. The offers are not quite the same as those the Vegas tourist might be expecting: Most of these casinos feature poker along with possibly a few table games, some sports betting and/or bingo. These distinctly Florida casinos include Hamilton Jai-Alai and Poker, Creek Entertainment Gretna, Ocala Poker & Jai-Alai, and Dania Jai-Alai.
What is Florida gambling law like?
Florida gambling law is about as mellow as the atmosphere on your favorite Atlantic Ocean beach in July. And in marked contrast to legislators in other states, Florida politicos’ tweaks to prevailing gambling law are typically refreshingly non-regressive.
One interesting tidbit regarding gambling law in the state went down in 2013. To combat the rising tide of internet cafés (remember them?) allowing illegal online casino game playing, lawmakers attempted to tighten up the extant legal definition of “slot machine.” The rewritten law expanded said legal definition to include “any machine or device or system or network of devices used to play games of chance or skill [which may be activated with] and account number, code or other object or information.”
Except that eagle-eyed legal eagles were ready to extend the sloppily-worded law into absurdity and a lawsuit against the state was immediately filed. “According to the lawsuit,” reported CNN.com, “this new definition could include any smartphone or computer in Florida since, in theory, any device with access to the Internet could be used to play an illegal game.”
Naturally, CNN’s reportage triggered a wave of hysteria, with internet noobs, trolls and paranoics running stories with headlines like “Does New Florida Law Make Computers Illegal?” and “Florida accidentally bans computers and smartphones.” The hype died off quickly, Florida legislators tightened their wording and Floridians are actually not suffering the indignation of random strip searches for cell phones.
The truth is that, as long as you’re in the coastal areas – stomping grounds of innumerable vacations over the decades and former home to great theme parks like the Miracle Strip Amusement Park – you can enjoy some interesting casino gaming along with the beaches and party atmosphere in Florida. Approximately 25 racinos and casinos await in the Sunshine State. Beach, babes, eternal summer and great casinos…? Must be Florida.
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