Opposition to Gwen Margolis' Internet Lottery Bill Looms
Around the State
So far, Sen. Gwen Margolis' bill to authorize and allow the sale of online Florida Lottery tickets is flying under the radar. Florida has bigger fish to fry on the gambling front in 2014.
But Senate Bill 98 is likely to gain more attention before the end of the year as retailers, mostly convenience store owners, mount unified opposition through the Arlington, Va.-based Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). Online sales would hurt retailers dramatically, RILA claims.
But she said she filed the Internet Lottery Bill to boost education on the back of a state-sponsored gambling genre that already exists.
Margolis said when the jackpots are big, even more tickets will be sold, bought by out-of-staters who will flood the education trust fund with more scholarship money.
"We have given out tremendous amounts of scholarship money, and it has been worthwhile. This would mean even more funds. When the jackpots are large, it creates interest in the Lottery outside our state."
(See a copy of SB 98, the Internet Lottery Bill, in the attachment below.)
Ocala Pilot Station Manager Carol Steuben told Sunshine State News she is ready to protest at the Capitol next year to defeat SB 98. "We get 5 percent of the Lottery tickets we sell," she said. "People come in for their tickets and they pick up other things, maybe doughnuts and coffee or a 12-pack of Coke. Lottery tickets are a big part of our business."
Cory Aintree, assistant manager at a 7-Eleven near Fort Pierce, asks, "How are you going to buy scratch-offs online? You can't. People will spend their money buying computer tickets. Nobody will stop specially to get a scratch-off after that."
Americans are overwhelmingly against allowing the use of credit cards, direct electronic transfers from bank accounts or debit/ATM cards to buy online lottery tickets, according to a national poll sponsored by RILA.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they were opposed to Internet lottery in a national survey of registered, proven voters in the 43 states and the District of Columbia that have a lottery.
RILA says the survey indicates American voters believe that Internet lottery will make it easier for underage children to gamble, drain their family’s bank account and rack up credit card debt on their parents’ card, which made them less likely to support lawmakers who advocate for it.
“With 92 percent of respondents saying they believe personal, financial debt is a problem for Americans, allowing people to use their credit cards, direct electronic transfers from their bank accounts or debit/ATM cards to buy online lottery tickets just isn’t smart,” said Brian Dodge, senior vice president for communications and state affairs for RILA.
RILA has said it will be part of the fight to keep online Lottery sales off the Internet in Florida.
Online ticket sales in Florida got a boost in March 2011, when the Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Accountability released a report that estimated annual online subscription sales could generate $10 million for education.
Gov. Rick Scott has not commented on SB 98, but in December 2011 he said he wanted to increase lottery ticket sales to allow a $1 billion increase in the state's education budget. Though he has not taken a position on online sales, he endorsed distributing more lottery-ticket vending machines and a change in state law to let the Florida Lottery install full-service machines that sell both scratch-off tickets and online games such as Powerball.
When asked for No Casinos' position on Internet Lottery sales, Orlando-based spokesman Michael Joe Murphy said, "We are opposed to it. The Lottery is already operating well beyond its mandate."
SB 98 has no sponsor yet in the House.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423.