New Florida Gaming Control Commission Makes First Major Hire

Written By Steve Schult on April 4, 2022 - Last Updated on May 25, 2022
Florida Gaming Control Commission

Last week, the newly-created Florida Gaming Control Commission named Louis Tormbetta its first-ever Executive Director.

Trombetta was handed the position in the regulatory body’s first-ever formal meeting last Thursday. He previously served as the Director of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Monica Rutkowski and Krista Woodard were also up for the position, but Commission Chair Julie Brown chose Trombetta. She cited his experience with both gaming and the law as the main reasons for her choice.

“When we’re talking about culture, I think that is an important facet – keeping the current culture of the existing staff also made up with the new vision of the future,” said Brown. “Having gaming experience is helpful. Having legal experience, knowing that rulemaking is going to be a critical component of this commission is another critical component.”

Trombetta earned his law degree from the University of Florida in 2013. After he passed the bar, he immediately began working for the state’s gaming regulatory bodies.

His first position after law school was in-house counsel for the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering.

With the compact in the courts, it’s unclear what the Florida Gaming Control Commission will regulate

Last April, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe agreed to a new, 30-year gaming compact. The new deal would allow for expanded gaming options at both pari-mutuel facilities and tribe-owned casinos.

The compact was set to legalize both retail and online sports betting sites in Florida.

As a result, lawmakers passed legislation during a Special Session last May that resulted in the creation of a new gaming regulatory body.

Before the compact, the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering oversaw Florida’s commercial gaming market. And the Seminole Tribe had its own commission that regulated gaming at its several properties throughout the state.

Since the Seminoles operate on sovereign land, the new commission would not regulate any gaming at the tribal-owned casinos. Instead, it would take over most of the responsibilities of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering.

As part of the compact, Florida’s pari-mutuel facilities would be allowed to offer certain house-backed card games. The previous compact prohibited pari-mutuels from spreading those games. Their addition would also add more responsibilities to those at the Divison of Pari-mutuel Wagering. Prior to the compact, the regulators only really needed to focus on overseeing race wagering and poker.

However, those new gaming options aren’t necessarily coming any time soon.

The ownership group of two Florida pari-mutuel facilities sued the federal government over the passage of the compact. They claimed the sports betting provisions were in violation of federal law. Furthermore, an anti-gambling group led by South Florida businessmen sued over the Department of the Interior over segments that would allow for Class III gaming options like craps and roulette at Seminole properties.

A federal judge ruled that sports betting provisions violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Seminoles are currently appealing the decision.

Commission will move forward with the hiring process anyway

Despite the proverbial grey cloud hanging over Florida gambling expansion, it appears that the FGCC will move forward as if it will be regulating a new market sooner or later.

Trombetta’s first responsibility in his new position will be to hire three more regulators. The panel approved the addition of three other positions, which include General Counsel, head of administration and information technology director.

The timeline for an appeals process is a lengthy one. But the fact that the government is moving forward with an entirely new agency shows that they believe sports betting and expanded gambling is coming sometime soon.

Photo by Shutterstock / MilletStudio
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Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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