Lobbyist On Chairman’s Gaming Board Application Raises Eyebrows

Written By TJ McBride on November 4, 2022
Gaming board chair cited lobbyist on application

The chairman of the Florida Gaming Control Commission, John MacIver, was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to oversee the five-member commission to regulate commercial gaming in Florida.

But there are questions about how he got there.

MacIver worked for DeSantis and Scott

The Florida Gaming Control Commission was created by the Florida Legislature in 2021 and seated earlier this year. It recently released its mission statement and five-year plan.

John MacIver

Before taking his seat at the head of the FGCC, MacIver was deputy general counsel to DeSantis and former Gov. Rick Scott from 2014 through 2019. He also worked as a legislative aide to current Republican Congressman Bill Posey from 2002 to 2008. Those positions certainly helped MacIver secure the chair on the commission.

Beyond his applicable experience from years of governmental work, there was another advantage he had when vying for the job. Among the 10 references on MacIver’s application, one name stood out larger and more prominent than the rest: lobbyist Nick Iarossi.

Iarossi a successful gaming lobbyist

Iarossi is a very successful lobbyist based in Tallahassee with a focus in gaming and gambling. He is the chief lobbyist for BestBet Jacksonville, co-founder of Capital City Consulting, and the Florida lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands, a titan of the casino industry.

Iarossi was Influence magazine’s “Lobbyist of the Year” in 2021. To say his name carries weight would be a massive understatement.

Iarossi has been a longtime lobbyist in Florida. he has worked on the legislative and executive levels many times. Through his time as a lobbyist, Iarossi and DeSantis crossed paths and got to know one another, which may have given MacIver an edge in the competition to become GCC chairman.

Iarossi has a long history of success as a lobbyist across many channels. A graduate of Florida State University, Iarossi has worked on local, state and federal government policy for two decades. He was one of the 100 Most Influential People in Florida, according to Influence.

Iarossi works for BestBet and Las Vegas Sands

BestBet, which employs Iarossi as its chief lobbyist, previously ran Jacksonville Kennel Club as well as simulcast wagering in all three cities of Jacksonville, Orange Park and St. Augustine. Additionally, BestBet runs poker rooms at its Jacksonville and Orange Park locations.

Iarossi is also a lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands, the company that wants to bring Las Vegas-style gaming to Jacksonville. Those plans sputtered when the company fell short in its quest to get a proposal on the ballot. Las Vegas Sands spent $70 million funding a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to allow commercial casinos outside of a 150-mile radius of a Seminole-owned property.

MacIver’s wife, Abigail MacIver, worked with Iarossi on accumulating signatures for the Las Vegas Sands proposal.

Consulting company boasts 200-plus clients

What seems to be Iarossi’s most fruitful endeavor is co-founding and owning Capital City Consulting, which is based in Tallahassee. Through CCC, Iarossi and his team work with more than 200 clients. The company earned nearly $24 million in the last year.

Two of CCC’s biggest clients are CVS and Florida Power and Light Company, which led to the company earning another $333,000.

Other clients include the Florida Association of Health Plans, Lennar Homes, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, RAI Services Company, Melbourne Greyhound Park and The Florida Lottery.

The other prosperous part for CCC is working with higher education, specifically, Florida Tech, Florida  Atlantic University, Florida International University, New College of Florida, University of Florida, as well as Iarossi’s alma mater, FSU.

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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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