You Can Legally Be a Bookie in Florida

Florida State Flag and A Man Holding Cash in His Hand

Bookmaking is generally associated with seedy underground figures. It brings to mind some mafia boss who has enforcers collecting bets.

That said, unlicensed bookmaking is basically illegal everywhere. I use the word “basically,” though because it is legal in Florida to a degree. But don’t get too excited yet, because even though it’s legal, you aren’t going to make much money.

If you’ve ever been interested in legally taking bets without launching a full-scale sportsbook, then you’ll definitely want to read the following post. It discusses how you can get away with bookmaking in the Sunshine State.

Unregulated Bookmaking Is Illegal Practically Everywhere

Before I get into Florida and its lenient laws on bookies, I’d like to expand more on the practice of illegal sports betting.

The federal government, states, and sports leagues have historically been leery of gambling. They don’t want betting to influence athletes and, thus, corrupt professional sports.

Strict laws have been in place to prevent such activities. From 1992 until 2018, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prevented states from legalizing sports betting. The only grandfathered exceptions included Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware.

PASPA fell in 2018 after a Supreme Court decision. Ever since this event, states now have the right to legalize sports gambling.

However, only major corporations have the money to successfully launch and run a legal sportsbook in these jurisdictions. Small-time operators who don’t obtain licensing are still operating illegally.

Florida Is an Exception to the Norm

Opening a sportsbook is a hefty investment. It involves paying licensing fees, taxes on revenues, and heavy operating costs.

The latter can be especially significant when considering that many operators open both a land-based and online sportsbook.

Unless you’re a multimillionaire, you’re unlikely to have the funds to launch a legal bookmaking operation. However, you can always head down to Florida and have a little fun as a bookie.

The Sunshine State is one of the few places that have lenient laws on accepting bets. Here are the rules on small-time bookmaking in Florida:

  • You can’t accept vig (a.k.a. juice).
  • You can only accept up to five bets per day.
  • The total amount of wagers accepted per day can only be worth up to $500.
  • The total amount of bets accepted per week can only be worth up to $1,500.
  • You cannot work with somebody else to run a bookmaking operation.

A big key is that you can’t make any profits from this venture. Furthermore, you aren’t allowed to accept too much action in a day/week.

Closeup of Man Making Sports Bets on His Phone

Therefore, you can’t view Florida bookmaking as a lucrative opportunity. These laws were merely made to allow informal bets between friends and office betting pools.

Nevertheless, you might find it fun to do some amateur bookmaking in this state. You can set up odds and collect wagers from your friends each week. Provided you’re not taking any vig, then you’ll be above board.

Pros of Being a Bookie in Florida

You’re not going to retire, or even legally make any money, as a Florida bookie. Nevertheless, you might consider taking some bets here for the following reasons.

You Can Set Up Fun Betting Pools

Office betting pools are quite common across America. They’re especially popular during March Madness, where people fill out brackets and put in a little money.

However, some states have such strict laws on sports gambling that you can’t even organize a small office pool. Florida wisely made sure to carve out an exception for these instances.

You can set up a pool and accept up to $500 in buy-ins. Going further, you can collect up to $1,500 throughout a week.

You’ll Live the Life of a Small-Time Bookie without Getting Arrested

Unlicensed bookmaking is a serious crime throughout the US. It can lead to felony charges, large fines, and potential jail time.

You may think that being a bookie sounds interesting. However, this lifestyle isn’t so interesting when it lands you in jail.

Assuming you’ve ever wanted to feel like a bookie without the consequences, though, then Florida is the perfect state. All you need to do is stay within the previously described legal parameters.

You and Your Friends Will Enjoy No-Vig Betting

Commercial sportsbooks collect vig from the losing side of bets. This juice helps them turn a profit and cover operating expenses.

On average, the losing side of a bet pays 10% juice to the bookmaker. This cost is generally accepted as a part of sports betting.

Assuming you offer your own bets to friends in Florida, though, then none of you will need to pay the vig. Instead, 100% of the winnings will stay within your group.

Sportsbook Screens Showing Games

You Could Profit Off the Bets

While you can’t turn profits through juice, you might have the skills to beat your friends at sports betting. This scenario alone could make it worthwhile to run a small bookmaking service.

Perhaps you have a friend group that’s enthusiastic about sports betting, yet doesn’t know as much about it as you. You could take their bets knowing that you’ve got an edge over them.

I’m not advocating that you rip off your buddies. If everybody agrees on the odds and bets, though, then you’re not doing anything wrong by winning money.

Cons of Being a Bookie in Florida

If being a bookmaker in Florida was so great, then the Sunshine State would be filled with bookies. It’s not so perfect, though, due to the following reasons.

You Can’t Legally Make Any Money

Assuming you want to remain above board, then you can’t earn profits from Florida bookmaking. Instead, you can only do it for fun.

This state’s laws specifically note that you can’t accept vig from wagers. As soon as you begin taking juice out of bets, then you’ve become an unlicensed and illegal bookmaker.

You May Be Tempted to Collect Vig

The legal consequences may be enough to keep you from wanting to take vig from the losing side. If your friends are okay with you accepting juice, then the temptation might be great to break the law.

The key is to pay out all winnings from the bets that you’ve taken in. Failure to pay 100% of the winnings is a violation of Florida laws.

You’re Facing a Third-Degree Felony for Illegal Bookmaking

Florida may have lenient laws in place to allow wagers between friends and office building pools. However, it’s just a strict as any other state when it comes to punishing unlicensed bookies.

This crime is a third-degree felony in the Sunshine State. It carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and 5 years in jail.

Is It Worth Becoming a FL Bookmaker?

Depending upon your goals, you may or may not find it worthwhile to accept wagers in Florida. Everything depends upon what you’re looking to get out of the experience.

If you just want to make a few bets with friends and feel like a bookie, then you should definitely try it. You’ll have fun setting up the odds, taking wagers, and making payouts.

Florida Sports Betting

Of course, you also must be careful not to violate any laws. You can’t accept too much money in a day nor take any juice from the losing side.

Assuming you’re looking at sports betting as a profit-making adventure, then you can’t legally do that in Florida. Any law violations will make you subject to a third-degree felony.

Our Thoughts on Being a Bookie in Florida

Some states fail to distinguish full-scale bookmaking from small-time betting. Luckily, Florida clearly marks the dividing line between the two.

You could be a small-time bookie in the Sunshine State so long as you follow the laws. You’re allowed to take up to $1,500 in weekly bets.

The catch, though, is that you can’t collect any vig and make profits off the venture. The only profits you can earn involve those stemming from winning bets against buddies.

Provided you’re fine with all this, then you might consider becoming a Florida bookie. You’ll find the experience entertaining if you’re really into sports betting.