Florida Governor Approves Confidentiality Bill for Gaming Control Commission Members

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In a significant leap towards safeguarding the privacy and personal safety of the Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC), Governor Ron DeSantis gave his nod to a pivotal bill, enveloping the commission members within a shroud of confidentiality. This bill, putting a protective cloak over the home addresses, personal telephone numbers, dates of birth, places of employment, educational backgrounds, and other sensitive information of the commissioners, their spouses, and children, was introduced in January by State Senator Travis Hutson.

In a series of unanimous approvals, it sailed through the Senate in February and later the House in March, finally landing on Governor DeSantis’s desk. With his signature on June 21, the law was put into motion, bringing a crucial assuagement pulse to the gaming commission’s ecosystem.

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The new legal shield rings especially important in the backdrop of the FGCC’s recent enforcement activities on arcades with supposedly illegal gambling machines. The legislature acknowledges that disheartened individuals, whose business or professional practices have undergone the commission’s scrutiny, may pose a high risk to the physical and emotional safety of the commissioners and their families.

Florida’s gaming framework is currently undergoing a seismic shift, with the US Supreme Court last week discarding an appeal that disputes the deal allowing the Seminole Tribe to run online sports betting operations in the state. A progression-based compact now confers upon the Seminoles the exclusive rights to operate slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties and a majority of house-banked table games across the state.

Despite the opposition from significant stakeholders like West Flagler Associates, which owns and operates the Bonita Springs Poker Room, lower federal courts concluded that the negotiations between Governor DeSantis and the tribe in 2021 did not infringe upon the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The FGCC now has regulatory jurisdiction over most sorts of gaming in Florida, although the Florida Lottery remains outside its oversight. The commission’s purview extends to parimutuel wagering, slot casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward, and management of the Seminole Compact.

That said, Florida’s gaming map still features a couple of exceptions outside the FGCC fold. The two gaming properties, operated by the Miccosukee Tribe, carve out the exceptions, as they chose not to enter a state gaming compact, focusing instead on Class I and II gaming. The tribe operates electronic bingo-based slot-like devices at its Miccosukee Casino & Resort in Miami and at a gaming plaza along Alligator Alley. The course their operations and the overall gaming landscape in Florida are yet to take remains to be seen. With the current shift in privacy protections and industry regulations, it certainly promises to be a captivating saga.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.