February 29, 2024 3 min read


Bills Proposing Tougher Penalties for Illegal Gambling Passed in Florida

The proposal which calls for increasing the penalties for illegal gambling received a green light from the state's Senate and was referred to the House of Representatives

Two bills filed recently in Florida called for the increase of penalties for illegal gambling. While one of the proposals was filed with the House, HB 189, the other one, Senate Bill 1046 (SB 1046), was filed with the Senate. The two proposals seek to clamp illegal gambling machines which continue spreading across the state. At the same time, the implementation of tougher penalties for illegal gambling activities seeks to serve as a deterrent.

Now, SB 1046 continues to gain traction. On Wednesday, the bill was read for the second and third time and passed by the Senate with 31 votes in favor and seven votes against out of a total of 40 votes. The proposal’s next stop is the House of Representatives where it will undergo further review and assessment.

The text in SB 1046 proposes increasing the penalties for illegal gambling from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony in cases where a first-time offense is observed. Similarly, the proposal calls for an increase in subsequent offenses which will be punishable with a second decree felony for a second offense, as well as a first-degree felony for a third or more offenses.

The proposal undoubtedly imposes tough penalties, considering that individuals sentenced to a third-degree felony may be punished with up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

Initially, SB 1046 did not include a provision that requires cease-and-desist orders to be sent to illegal gambling businesses. Such a provision was included in HB 189, the bill’s House counterpart. However, amid concerns about unintended consequences, SB 1046 was also amended to include a cease-and-desist provision in order to protect individuals who may not know they are employed by illegal gambling establishments.

The Proposal Seeks to Fight Illegal Gambling

Sen. Jonathan Martin who introduced SB 1046 was recently quoted by Florida Politics, revealing that he supported the changes regarding the cease-and-desist measure. “I am in favor of those changes. The Gaming Commission is in favor of those changes. I look forward to amending this bill or taking on the House version if that’s off the floor before this one is,” he explained.

Additionally, Martin explained that the change sought to bring more clarity. At the same time, the Senator outlined that the goal for the bill is to repeal illegal gambling rather than imprisoning people who are not aware that they are employed by illegal establishments.

Still, the proposals continue to raise concerns, especially for workers who may be employed by such establishments. This is because if such employees are arrested on a felony, even in cases where they are not guilty, such charges must be disclosed in many documents. Potentially this may even impact people who are after buying a home through a mortgage.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

1 Comment

  • Zippy
    March 4, 2024 at 10:26 pm

    I speak for the patrons that patronize these small, problem free (mostly) game rooms. These are tax paying residents and snow birds. Mostly elderly people come. Most are widowed. These folks have nothing else to do or go. They feel safe in these establishments. They have fun and get to be social for awhile. I don’t even want to think about how lonely they’ll get without some form of outing.

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