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Gambling has a long history in Southern Florida going back to almost one century ago since Henry Flagler began enticing high rollers in southern Florida. These first set of gambling activities were not formally organized as gambling is today. They were largely happening inside some of the reservations in Florida, and to be specific in the Seminole reservations.

First Casino in Southern Florida

The first casino which opened in southern Florida took place in 1888. It was opened by Ponce de Leon at St. Augustine. Ponce de Leon erected what was called then a Bacchus Club Casino inside his hotel in St. Augustine. Similar casino structures were built near the beaches which became a central spot where people gathered for roulette wheels. It also had crap tables as well as bookie boards back in that early era in 1888. Soon a man by name Henry Plant concentrated building his small scale casino gambling hotels on the West coast of Florida while Haggler concentrated in the east coast.

Tampa and Miami Gambling Connections

In 1920s Tampa emerged as a place where illegal Bolita gambling activities took place. Bolita was a form of numbers game which was introduced in the Tampa area by Cuban immigrants. Soon such practice spread to Miami but at first took place in the homes of wealthy Miami residents many with Cuban connections. These forms of early South Florida gambling activities soon sprang up in many other small swampy towns in south Florida like the city of Hialeah Park which began its small scale gambling activities in 1924.

Al Capone and Meyer Lansky Connections

During the era of 1930s notorious mafia bosses in the names of Al Capone and Meyer Lansky established some hangout places in Southern Florida, which created a place known as “Little Chicago” with gambling casinos. With Al Capone and Meyer Lansky connections, the gambling activities have now involved Sheriffs, Police and politicians who received some form of payments to protect such activities from the point of view of the law.

Modern Gambling in Florida and its economic impact

Florida today has all forms of legalized gambling operations covering most of south Florida’s coastal cities and towns. Gambling activities in south Florida at Miami casinos produces many jobs and employment opportunities in the state. Today gambling activities in Florida is worth over $2.2 billion. The state is also involved with the lottery system. Gambling has spread to many Indian reservations in Southern Florida and has helped many Indian reservations improve their economic conditions.


Casinos located in South Florida (per Wikipedia)

Casino City County State District Type Comments
Calder Casino & Race Course Miami Gardens Miami-Dade Florida Racino
Casino Miami Jai-Alai Miami Miami-Dade Florida Racino
Creek Entertainment Gretna Gretna Gadsden Florida Racino
Dania Jai-Alai Dania Beach Broward Florida Racino
Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room Daytona Beach Volusia Florida Racino
Derby Lane St. Petersburg Pinellas Florida Racino
Ebro Greyhound Track Ebro Washington Florida Racino
Flagler Dog Track and Magic City Casino Miami Miami-Dade Florida Racino
Fort Pierce Jai-Alai & Poker Fort Pierce St. Lucie County Florida Racino
Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino Hallandale Beach Broward Florida Racino
Hamilton Jai-Alai and Poker Jasper Hamilton Florida Racino
Hialeah Park Race Track Hialeah Miami-Dade Florida Racino
Jacksonville Kennel Club Orange Park Duval Florida Racino
Jefferson County Kennel Club Monticello Jefferson Florida Racino
Mardi Gras Casino Hallandale Beach Broward Florida Racino
Melbourne Greyhound Park Melbourne Brevard Florida Racino
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center Miami Miami-Dade Florida Native American
Naples/Fort Myers Greyhound Track Bonita Springs Lee Florida Racino
Ocala Poker & Jai-Alai Ocala Marion Florida Racino
Orange Park Kennel Club Orange Park Clay Florida Racino
Palm Beach Kennel Club West Palm Beach Palm Beach Florida Racino
Pensacola Greyhound Track Pensacola Escambia Florida Racino
Pompano Park Pompano Beach Broward Florida Racino
Sarasota Kennel Club Sarasota Sarasota Florida Racino
Seminole Casino Big Cypress Clewiston Hendry Florida Native American
Seminole Casino – Brighton Okeechobee Okeechobee Florida Native American
Seminole Casino Immokalee Immokalee Collier Florida Native American
Seminole Coconut Creek Casino Coconut Creek Broward Florida Native American
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood Hollywood Broward Florida Native American
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa Tampa Hillsborough Florida Native American
Seminole Casino – Hollywood Hollywood Broward Florida Native American
Tampa Bay Downs Tampa Hillsborough Florida Racino
Tampa Greyhound Track Tampa Hillsborough Florida Racino
Victory Casino Cruises Cape Canaveral Brevard Florida Casino Ship
Victory Casino Cruises Jacksonville Duval Florida Casino Ship