Is Florida the least haunted state in the country? An online poker company says yes.

Local ghost hunters dispute the claim because Ybor City, which they say is quite haunted, is not mentioned in the research.
The Hernando Historical Museum at 601 Museum Court in Brooksville is said to be one of Florida's most haunted sites.
The Hernando Historical Museum at 601 Museum Court in Brooksville is said to be one of Florida's most haunted sites. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes ]
Published Aug. 13, 2020|Updated Aug. 18, 2020

TAMPA ― As a former star of Ghost Hunters International, Angela Alderman has investigated paranormal sightings throughout the world. She considers her home state of Florida among the most haunted places she has been.

“When I walk through parts of Florida, I have heard people walking behind me, turned around and saw no one,” Alderman, a Tampa resident, said. “Florida has some magical places.”

So she was shocked to learn that online poker company CardsChat, which is delving into content marketing, had listed Florida as the state where someone is least likely to see a ghost.

According to their research, the gambling odds of seeing a ghost in Florida are +1,296,000, meaning a $100 wager would win nearly $1.3 million.

The state where someone is most likely to see a ghost is Illinois, with odds of +110,900.

“That doesn’t sound right,” Alderman said. “Ybor City alone should place Florida higher.”

Actually, no Ybor ghost sightings made the list compiled of hauntings from 1972 through 2020, but Tampa Theatre and the Hernando Historical Museum did.

Some believe Tampa Theatre is haunted.
Some believe Tampa Theatre is haunted. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

According to Anna Osborne, an England-based marketing executive who represents CardsChat, the data was collected using manual web research with keywords and combinations of keywords such as haunted, ghosts and paranormal.

“If one person declared they have seen a ghost more than once, or multiple people have shared the same inexplicable event over a period of time, then we noted that as haunted,” Osborne said. She noted that there’s no scientific proof of a haunting, so the data is subjective.

Related: Quarantined with Tampa Bay’s ghosts? Some wonder if they are stuck in haunted houses.

Orlando is the most haunted city in Florida, according to their research, with 32 sightings since 1972, followed by St. Augustine with 15. Tampa and St. Petersburg have each had 11. Brooksville made the list with seven, Tarpon Springs added three to Florida’s total and Clearwater’s tally is two.

Overall, Florida totaled 1,697 sightings, which is the 11th most in the nation.

But calculating in Florida’s high population of nearly 22 million as compared to Delaware’s 124 sightings and a population of 983,000, for instance, is why the odds of seeing a ghost in the Sunshine State are the worst. Delaware ranks 45th on the list.

Texas had the most sightings with 7,099, with a population of 29,472,295, placing it at No. 22 on the list.

The following are some of the Tampa Bay area spots that made Florida’s list:

Ghosts apparently like watching movies in Tampa. Britton Cinemas, Falk Theatre, Funlan Drive-In and Tampa Theatre are each cited.

Tampa Theatre “employees have said that they occasionally hear footsteps and chains in deserted hallways behind the stage and have spotted someone in the projecting room even though there was no one up there at the time,” the report says.

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The downtown theater promotes its paranormal history with ghost tours.

Spirits, like tourists, are apparently drawn to hotels, specifically the Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach and the Vinoy in St. Petersburg.

“The Don CeSar resort was once the private residence of Thomas Rowe,” reads the research. “His ghost can be seen walking hand-in-hand with a beautiful dark-haired woman along the shore.”

Both hotels have ghostly reputations among the paranormal community, Alderman said.

The Don CeSar hotel has a reputation as a haunted structure.
The Don CeSar hotel has a reputation as a haunted structure. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

And the apparitions might enjoy learning about local history.

“Many things have happened” at the Hernando Heritage Museum, according to the report, “including hearing a child cry when no child was around and seeing orbs and mists on digital cameras.”

The museum boasts of these hauntings with ghost tours.

Related: Hernando museum is haunted, staff says. Now, they’re looking for a cemetery there.

Those structures share a common theme, said Lakeland’s Miki Strange — her real last name — a paranormal investigator with Tampa Bay Spirits. “They are historic buildings.”

Spirits, she said, become attached to a building but move on when it is torn down.

That might explain why the odds of seeing a ghost in Florida are low.

“Florida has a history of tearing down the old to make way for the new,” Strange said.

Still, like Alderman, she was surprised Ybor with its historic structures did not make the list, especially the Cuban Club, which is said to be haunted.

“To me, that shows the data is skewed,” Strange said.

Ybor City's Cuban Club is said to be haunted by the ghost of a little boy.
Ybor City's Cuban Club is said to be haunted by the ghost of a little boy. [ Times (2019) ]

Alderman has investigated the Cuban Club with a local ghost-hunting team.

She said the spirit of a boy lives in the basement cantina and “I could hear people walking around the second floor and the ballroom.

“I’ve done this all over the world and can say I feel the most energy in Ybor.”