‘Please communicate your existence’: New gambling commission urged to crack down on ‘gray’ games

slot machines
'We’ve had known organized crime, we’ve had shootings, we’ve had actually murders involved in the gray market industry in Florida.'

Florida’s new Gaming Control Commission (GCC) is still making new hires and scouting leases and building designs, but those involved with the gambling industry want them to get the word out and start cracking down on so-called “gray” slot machines.

“Please communicate your existence to local elected officials and local law enforcement,” longtime gambling industry lobbyist Marc Dunbar told the Commission Wednesday. “It’s going to be important as they move forward looking at these kind of operations.”

Dunbar was referring to a proposal in Jacksonville to legalize “gray” slot machines, so-named because they operate in an alleged gray area of state law. The state has said the electronic games are illegal and denied licenses to operators, but underground operations continue to pop up around the state.

The GCC is a five-member panel set up by the Legislature through a law passed in May 2021 along with a new gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe. It requires the Commission to take over the duties of the Pari-mutuel Wagering Division (PWD) of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which currently oversees gambling operations, starting July 1.

The panel, though, has only met a handful of times and is still in the process of transitioning PWD employees under its purview. Wednesday’s meeting was the first with its full complement of five members. Gov. Ron DeSantis was supposed to appoint all five members before Jan. 1, but only appointed three. He appointed another two last month.

Dunbar, currently listed as a lobbyist for the Seminole Tribe, urged the Commission to get started right away, weeding out illegal gambling operations.

“We’ve had known organized crime, we’ve had shootings, we’ve had actually murders involved in the gray market industry in Florida,” Dunbar said. “One of the things that’s tied law enforcement’s hands, local government’s hands, and the Division of Parimutuel Wagering and state agencies’ hands is an entity that didn’t have that plenary authority.”

During the meeting, Commissioners instructed Executive Director Louis Trombetta to advertise for the agency’s director of gaming enforcement position starting June 15. The panel will hold a Zoom call with applicants July 6 and narrow the selection down to finalists, with whom they’ll hold interviews later in July to make their selection.

One of the preferences for the position is 10 years of experience in law enforcement, including criminal investigations. Some Commissioners specifically said they preferred experience in white-collar cases and the use of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations  (RICO) Act.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us and for the law enforcement director to get out in the state as quickly as possible and let these other law enforcement agencies know that they’ve got this expertise now,” Commissioner Chuck Drago said. “Many law enforcement agencies aren’t familiar enough with the gray market machines and so forth to really understand it and make the cases they need to make.”

Gray Rohrer


2 comments

  • A W

    June 8, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    no chance of being successful with this but good luck trying.

  • Sonny

    June 15, 2022 at 10:25 am

    Lets see how far they go. It will be the do as I say not as I do garbage. I guarantee Marc Dunbar will NEVER go as far as to shut down the illegal designated player games at all the rack tracks. The DBPR was suppose to remove them a few years ago but never did because they get a cut of the cash where as the “gray” slot the state gets nothing. AND marc dunbar has his hands on those gray slots too since he owns quite a few.

Comments are closed.


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