Florida Lottery Bill Could Cost Education More than $60 Million

A bill on the Florida Lottery in the Legislature could cut education funding drastically if it clears the Legislature.

HB 629 from state Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, who sits on the Gaming Control Subcommittee, would prohibit the use of personal electronic devices to play, store, redeem, sell, or purchase lottery tickets or games.

Robinson told Florida Politics last month that he brought out the proposal to ensure Lottery tickets were sold at retailers and not online.

Robinson said he was worried about “fraudulent websites” selling tickets and called for banning the purchase of Lottery tickets through smartphones.

“Once you start allowing mobile devices, you are expanding the scope of the lottery,” he told Florida Politics.

According to the Revenue Estimating Conference,  the bill, if passed, would reduce education funding by more than $60 million.

Florida Gaming Watch, which monitors this kind of legislation, called out Robinson’s bill in a Tweet on Monday, warning that it would cut education funds. Portions of every Florida Lottery ticket gets transferred to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF).

While the role of the Lottery in funding education in Florida has been debated over the past three decades, the wording in Robinson’s bill raises some eyebrows.

“Compared to previous bills in the past, the language in this bill is much more aggressive, especially on the warning label requirements,” a lobbyist for the gaming industry told Florida Daily.

Robinson would add a warning label to all lottery tickets, advertisements and promotions that reads: “WARNING: PLAYING A LOTTERY GAME CONSTITUTES GAMBLING AND MAY LEAD TO ADDICTION AND/OR COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR. THE CHANCES OF WINNING A BIG PRIZE ARE VERY LOW.”

Florida Gaming Watch claimed the proposed warning labels would deter people from buying lottery tickets, meaning less money for education.

Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) noted the impacts of this prohibition on retailer and player participation, while potentially significant, are impossible to calculate.

“We do not include any estimate for such impacts in this analysis,” the EDR noted.

But the EDR also pointed out if  Robinson’s bill passes, education in Florida could lose more than $62 million.

The bill is being backed in the state Senate by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.

Robinson’s bill cleared the Gaming Control Subcommittee last month but still has stops in the  Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and the Commerce Committee.

 

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