Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill Exempting Gaming Regulators From Public Records

Written By Phil West on July 2, 2024 - Last Updated on July 3, 2024
A sticky note that says

Florida didn’t pass many gambling-related laws during the 2024 legislative session. However, the gambling bills approved by lawmakers were focused on the state’s gaming regulatory body.

The Florida legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 692 at the end of the session. Gov. Ron DeSantis just recently signed the bill into law. The legislation keeps public information about Florida Gaming Control Commission members and their families from being readily accessible.

FGCC has no control over the Seminole Tribe

The Seminole Tribe of Florida controls most of the Sunshine State’s gambling industry. It has exclusivity over Las Vegas-style casino gaming and owns six brick-and-mortar casinos.

Furthermore, the most recent iteration of the Florida gaming compact gave them control of the new sports betting market. The Seminole-owned Hard Rock Bet is the state’s only legal sportsbook.

The tribe recently hinted at legalizing Florida online casinos through the compact. If that happens, they will also have exclusivity over that industry.

Commercial entities operate everything else in the state through pari-mutuel facilities. Even if the company has “casino” in the property’s title, it is still a pari-mutuel.

These operators can offer certain card games and accept wagers on horse racing. Some even have a track of their own. In Broward and Miami-Dade counties, voters passed a referendum allowing pari-mutuels to operate slot machines.

The FGCC has no control over the Seminole Tribe’s operations. As a sovereign nation, they technically govern themselves.

On the other hand, the FGCC enforces rules and regulations on the state’s pari-mutuel facilities.

Bill shields commissioners’ families from having info online

The five-member panel has individual profiles featuring names, photos, and certain biographical information on the agency’s official website. Senate Bill 692 is designed to protect the commissioners, spouses, and children from having personal information readily searchable online.

According to the bill’s language, it amends section 16 119.071 of the Florida Statutes shielding law enforcement personnel, Department of Financial Services employees, and others working in potentially sensitive areas from having home addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information from being in the state’s public records.

The law states:

“The release of such personal identifying and location information might place the commission’s current or former commissioners and their family members in danger of physical and emotional harm from disgruntled individuals whose businesses or professional practices have come under the scrutiny of the commission. In addition, such personnel may be subject to threats or acts of revenge because of the duties they perform.”

According to The News Service of Florida, SB 692 was one of 14 bills signed by DeSantis from the 2024 legislative session.

According to its website, the FGCC is “a five-member regulatory body that is responsible for exercising all regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to gambling, including pari-mutuel wagering, cardrooms, slot machine facilities, oversight of gaming compacts, and other forms of gambling authorized by the State Constitution or law, excluding the state lottery.”

Those actions include, per House Bill 5203, which DeSantis signed into law in April, the ability to seize “certain property” and place it into the FGCC’s Pari-Mutuel Wagering Trust Fund.

In 2022, the FGCC announced that it would aggressively pursue and prosecute illegal gambling operations in Florida. The new law allows the agency to keep the slots-like machines agents seize in raids. That includes proceeds from the sale of the machines and “all money and other things of value” seized as part of an investigation.

Before this legislation passed, seized assets went to counties and cities where raids occurred or to the Florida General Fund if the state conducted the investigation.

 

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