Senate Committee Advances Bill That Would Create Gaming Control Commission In Florida

Written By JR Duren on April 16, 2021

Something is up in Florida.

This week, a Senate bill proposing the formation of a gaming commission moved its way through the Regulated Industries Committee by a vote of 9-0. The bill sets forth who can serve on the commission and lays out the duties and power of the commission.

Called the Gaming Control Commission (GCC), the governing body would be a part of the attorney general’s office but would not be subject to the AG’s control or supervision.

GCC members would be a mix of cross-discipline experts

The bill calls for a committee of five people, of which there needs to be at least one member with the following credentials:

  • Law enforcement experience
  • Certified public accountant licensed in Florida
  • Attorney authorized to practice law in Florida

The members would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate for four-year terms. However, the initial terms would stagger. Two members would serve four years, two would serve three years and one would serve one year. Salaries would be approximately $136,000 per year, according to the latest version of the bill available at the time of publishing.

A commissioner would oversee the GCC and would serve up to 12 years in his or her role. Also, the GCC would select a non-member to serve as the executive director. The director would hire GCC staff and “supervise, direct, coordinate, and administer all activities necessary to fulfill the commission’s responsibilities,” according to the bill.

If the bill makes it through the legislature, the governor would have until Jan. 1, 2022, to appoint the committee. The committee would then have to select an executive director by July 1, 2022.

Commission would oversee lion’s share of Florida gaming regulation

The GCC would have ample power in terms of Florida gaming regulation.

As laid out in the bill, the commission would undertake the following duties:

  • Exercise authority and executive power over all gambling except the lottery
  • Prohibit any interpretation of existing laws that would expand gaming
  • Review regulations related to licensing and permitholders
  • Review the procedures that qualify license, permit and registration applicants

The commission would also hold subpoena power and schedule hearings regarding the enforcement of gaming regulations.

In general, the GCC would be the premier regulatory body overseeing the state’s gaming laws and enforcement.

GCC would presumably oversee Florida sports betting

As it stands, sports betting in Florida remains illegal. As indicated above, the GCC would be bound to block any interpretation of existing laws that would lead to gambling expansion, too.

However, if a bill legalizing regulated wagering were to pass, or if the state’s voters approved an amendment that would allow sports betting, the GCC would likely oversee the formation of sports betting regulations as well as the enforcement of those regulations.

There are several bills making their way through committees that would legalize sports betting. A flurry of six bills appeared in the Senate at the beginning of the legislative session, followed by a seventh standalone bill.

Photo by AP / Mark Wallheiser
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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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