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Florida does not have legalized land-based casino gambling. It does, however, have a day-cruise facility which offers gamblers the opportunity to board ships that cruise offshore where casino gambling is legal. There are a few land-based Native Indian casinos that operate pending state approval (see below).
From the east coast the cruise ships sail out into the Atlantic Ocean and from the west coast the boats sail out into the Gulf of Mexico.
There are a variety of cruise ships in operation ranging from Port Canaveralís 1,800-passenger Ambassador II cruise ship all the way down to the yacht-sized SunCruz Casino boat in Key Largo which carries just 150 passengers.
Generally, you will find that the larger cruise ships have more things to do besides gambling, but the cost will be a little higher because of added port/service charges. Most of the ships that sail from the major ports will add port/service charges to the quoted cruise price. Normally, there is also a charge to park your car at those locations.
Since late 1994 smaller ships have begun operations and because they donít dock at the large ports many donít have port/service charges added to their cruise prices. Also, most of them offer free parking. You will find that almost all of the ships are constantly running special offers and you are likely to find a lower price than the regular brochure rates.
All cruise ships offer slots, video poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and caribbean stud poker. Some casinos also offer baccarat, mini-baccarat, sportsbook, poker, pai gow poker, let it ride, and bingo. Each boat sets its own minimum gambling age: on some boats itís 18 and on others itís 21. The minimum drinking age on all boats is 21.
Florida has five Native Indian gaming locations. The Seminoles have four and the fifth is on the Miccosukee reservation.
There is no state-tribal agreement in effect in Florida and the state has gone to court in an attempt to shut down the Indian gaming operations. In turn, the Seminole tribe has made a formal appeal to the Secretary of the Interiorís office to allow full-scale casino gambling on their reservations.
Until the matter is fully resolved, federal officials have not allowed the state to shut down any Tribesí gambling operations. Indian casinos normally offer high-stakes bingo, video pull tabs, and poker games. All are normally open 24 hours and the minimum gambling age is 18.
For information on Florida call (904) 488-5607. For information on the Florida Keys or Key West call (800) 352-5397.
[Jun 2003 last update]
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