Johnny ElHachem is a litigation and regulatory attorney in Holland & Knight's Miami office and is recognized for his extensive background in gaming law, regulatory matters and complex business litigation. Mr. ElHachem leverages his international and government background, as well as his fluency in Arabic, French and English, to provide comprehensive legal representation to clients in the United States and abroad. His global perspective and in-depth knowledge of various legal systems help to ensure that his clients receive legal counsel tailored to the complexities of today's interconnected world.
Gaming Law, Horse Racing and Regulation
Mr. ElHachem draws from his extended experience as a former assistant general counsel for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), an agency that licenses and regulates more than 1 million entities in Florida, to help clients navigate regulatory challenges and ensure proactive compliance.
While there, Mr. ElHachem was the deputy chief attorney for the gaming and horse racing division for years, and possesses a deep understanding of the nuances and challenges of regulatory matters. In his role at the gaming division, he served as the lead litigation counsel and handled and first-chaired high-profile cases involving casinos and racetracks. Additionally, he offered counsel to executives on the intricacies of gaming law, ensured strict compliance with regulations, including licensing and permitting, and played a pivotal role in drafting many of the current rules governing Florida's gaming, equine and horse racing industries. This includes regulations overseeing cardrooms, slot machines, and the safety and integrity of horses and greyhounds.
At Holland & Knight, Mr. ElHachem harnesses his experience as a former regulator to benefit his clients. Monitoring and assessing various regulatory developments across several jurisdictions, he aims to keep his clients well-informed about the ever-evolving laws and developments surrounding pari-mutuel wagering, sports betting, daily fantasy sports and other regulated industries.
Complex Business Litigation
Mr. ElHachem also has extensive experience in administrative tribunals and state and federal courts across multiple states. In addition to his gaming law practice, he has represented entities and investors in circuit and appellate courts in cases involving business fraud, corporate and partnership disputes, breaches of fiduciary duties and derivative actions. Mr. ElHachem has represented federal receivers in matters focusing on Ponzi schemes and has collaborated with various regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Having lived, worked and studied in Lebanon, France and Saudi Arabia before relocating to the United States, Mr. ElHachem brings a global perspective to his practice. His international experience includes advising on local and international regulatory compliance matters, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act.
Community Engagement, Mentorship and Pro Bono
Beyond his legal practice, Mr. ElHachem is an active community member, serving on multiple boards and volunteering as a college mentor with Strive for College. He is dedicated to mentoring new attorneys and law students, guiding them in their career development. He also strives to provide pro bono representation in excess of 100 hours on a yearly basis.
- Media and Fantasy Sports: Advised a media outlet on airing ads involving daily fantasy sports in Florida
- Daily Fantasy Sports Operators: Advised and evaluated a start-up company's plans involving unique and new business models dealing with daily fantasy sports
- Sale of Daily Fantasy Sports: Advised a daily fantasy sports operator regarding potential purchase and sale of assets
- Sports Betting Vendor Contracts: Advised a national tribe on sports betting vendor contracts
- Constitutional Amendments: Provided legal counsel and advice to government officials regarding Florida's Constitutional Amendments 3 and 13 dealing with greyhound racing and online sports betting
- Constitutional Challenge: First-chaired and prevailed on summary judgment in a constitutional challenge involving the Florida Condominium Act
- Gaming Rule Challenge: Secured a victory on appeal in a protracted and fiercely contested three-year rule challenge that involved multiple Florida casinos
- Greyhound Rule Challenge: Successfully argued and won a rule challenge, proving the validity of certain Florida gaming regulations related to the relocation of greyhound permits; this outcome protected the interests of stakeholders within the gaming industry and ensured regulatory compliance
- Horse Racing Rule Challenge: Secured the dismissal of a challenge that alleged certain horse racing medication rules, as established by the horse racing division, exceeded the bounds of delegated legislative authority; this win clarified the legal landscape surrounding horse racing regulations in Florida
- Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) Litigation: Represented one of the world's largest prestige and luxury jewelers in a high-stakes $700 million-plus lawsuit; the case centered on alleged violations of FACTA, and team successfully secured the dismissal of the action
- COVID-19 Litigation: Represented a commercial and residential landlord in the first lawsuit in Florida to successfully get past initial stages to challenge COVID-19 federal moratorium on evictions
- Shareholder Litigation: Represented minority shareholders in a $32 million case involving derivative and direct actions against a company and its majority shareholder; after several years of contentious litigation, earned a favorable settlement, resolving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste, fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment
- Contractual Dispute Litigation: Represented a manufacturer and distributor of specialty medical and industrial supplies in a complex breach of agreement and fraudulent inducement case against a foreign company and its owners; after years of perseverance to overcome the defendants' evasive practices – fraud on the court and concealment – team obtained a favorable judgment against both parties
- Secured a default and the striking of pleadings against the foreign company and its owners as sanctions imposed by the trial court due to their persistent perjury and fraud on the court; the victory was further affirmed on appeal in the Florida Third District Court of Appeal
- Successfully defended against a petition for writ of certiorari filed by the foreign company and the owners following the trial court's ruling on personal jurisdiction
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Ponzi Scheme Case: Represented a receiver in a multifaceted civil enforcement action filed by the SEC against a company and its principal, accused of orchestrating a $140 million-plus Ponzi scheme; assisted team with asset protection, clawback efforts, asset management, liquidation sale and overseeing the claims process for more than 800 claimants
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Victory: Represented a receiver in a case initiated by the FTC against a defendant accused of fraudulent activities; the outcome included a verdict that allocated $102 million in refunds to defrauded consumers, showcasing dedication to consumer protection
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Fraud Allegations: Represented a receiver in a civil enforcement action brought by the CFTC against an entity and its principal; the case involved allegations of defrauding commodity pool participants of nearly $10 million; assisted team with asset management, location, preservation and clawback efforts to protect the interests of victims
- Florida State University College of Law, J.D., cum laude
- Florida State University College of Law, LL.M., American Law for Foreign Lawyers, magna cum laude
- Université de Poitiers, France, Master's Degree, Master 1
- Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik, Lebanon, LL.B.
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- The Florida Bar, Administrative Law Section, Executive Council, 2022-2024
- The Florida Bar, Governmental and Public Policy Advocacy Committee, 2022-2027
- The Florida Bar, Business Law Section; International Law Section; Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section; City, County & Local Government Law Section
- Best Cross Examination Award, Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) Trial Academy, 2019
- International Arbitration Certification, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), 2014
- International Human Rights Award, International Bar Association (IBA), 2013