Officials outline $25 million plan for new gaming regulation agency

That's a drop in the bucket compared to what the Seminole Compact will generate.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is proposing nearly $25 million to start up the state’s upcoming agency to regulate gaming.

Lawmakers established the Florida Gaming Control Commission during this year’s Special Session on gaming, creating a law enforcement agency dedicated to gambling and related issues. Gov. Ron DeSantis approved that measure (SB 4A) in May.

DBPR Secretary Julie Brown, whose agency falls under DeSantis’ purview, told members of a House budget panel that in addition to transferring $14 million from the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, the new agency will need an additional $10 million to cover the new Division of Gaming Enforcement, staffing needs, training for 15 law enforcement officers and more.

While the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering previously operated under DBPR, the FGCC will operate under the Attorney General’s Office, a Cabinet-level office separate from the Governor’s Office. DBPR officials have taken on the extra task of drawing up “a very efficient agency that will ultimately maintain the integrity, the security of gaming,” Brown said.

House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Cyndi Stevenson, a St. Johns Republican, noted Brown’s department had done significant work to get the agency “off to a proper start.”

This year, lawmakers allocated $2 million for the FGCC to hire 15 initial staff positions. DBPR’s plan expands the agency to 180 full-time officials, including five commissioners, an executive director and an inspector general’s office. The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering will maintain its current 109 employees, the Division of Gaming Enforcement will have 20, and the Division of Administration will have 29.

DeSantis has until the start of 2022 to appoint the commissioners and until April 1, 2022, to appoint an executive director.

Of the $25 million DBPR outlined for the FGCC, more than $2 million is a one-time ask. The bulk of that would go to setting up network servers and other technical equipment, as well as outfitting 15 motor vehicles for the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

A $25 million budget would put Florida in the bottom bulk of eight other states’ gaming regulation commissions. Florida’s would have a budget larger only than Mississippi’s $8 million agency. It would be nearly $2 million smaller than Michigan’s and far smaller than New York’s $114 million commission, the largest.

In terms of proposed employees, Florida’s agency would be in the middle of the pack.

DBPR shared notes with agencies from Nevada, New Jersey and more while developing its plan.

“Through these conversations, we believe the requests that we are proposing will be sufficient to accomplish the Commission’s goals while also remaining fiscally prudent for Florida’s taxpayers,” Brown said.

The costs for the FGCC are a drop in the bucket compared to what the new gambling laws are expected to generate for the Sunshine State. The Seminole Compact guarantees Florida a minimum $2.5 billion in revenue over the next five years and $6 billion through 2030.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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