Local Sheriff’s Department Says It Will Help Florida Regulators Crack Down On Illegal Gambling

Written By Steve Schult on February 22, 2023
Sheriff works with Florida Gaming Control Commission

A local Florida police department is taking steps to curb illegal gambling in its county.

According to a post from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, the county’s law enforcement will be helping regulators crack down on illegal Florida gambling.

The post said the department is “working closely” with the Florida Gaming Control Commission and the Division of Gaming Enforcement. The goal is to crack down on illegal slot machines in the southwest Florida county.

There shouldn’t be any slot machines in Charlotte County

Under state law, slot machines are only permitted at casinos owned by the Seminole Tribe. As well as licensed pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade County.

There are no Seminole casinos in Charlotte County. The closest is the Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee located about 45 miles northeast of Naples.

Thus, there is no lawful way to have a slot machine in the area.

Anyone operating a slot machine outside a licensed facility is breaking state law. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine per machine.

Regulators continue slot machine crackdown

The FGCC was created in May 2021. It came as part of new legislation to regulate new forms of gambling authorized in the 2021 gaming compact.

A judge invalidated the compact and gaming expansion is on hold. However, the state moved forward with creating the new regulatory body.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed five members to the board. Those members selected Louis Trombetta as executive director in April 2022. A month later, DeSantis reappointed those same five members.

In June, the commission said its first target would be the “gray” area slot machines. These machines exist somewhere between slot machines and arcade games. But they pay a cash prize, which makes them illegal to have in most instances.

Over the last eight months, local law enforcement made several busts of these arcade-style casinos. But this is the first time a local department explicitly intends to help state gaming regulators.

“Our goal is to educate the public and local business owners on these laws,” read the post. “The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work closely with Law Enforcement partners to ensure these businesses are operating within Florida law.”

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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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