Category Archives: lottery

Update: Florida Lottery Gambling Expansion Ruled Void

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing issues related to the Florida Lottery. Most recently, it was reported that a new contract with the Florida Lottery could effectively double the amount of gambling from the lottery. An online source reported that a lawsuit was planned by Florida Speaker of the House:

According to the House, the Lottery does not have the authority to sign a contract requiring Legislature to pay more money for gaming. The council for the Speaker of the House stated that the Secretary of the Florida Lottery signed a multi-year contract with IGT Global Solutions Corporation that requires the Florida Lottery to spend more money in the future than what has been appropriated in the budget categories.

With the signing of the contract, the legislative budget for the Fiscal Year 2017 to 2018 will require an aggregate increase in the ticket machine budget categories and the categories will have to be realigned in order to accommodate the new increase via the contract. According to the council, this is impermissible.

Now that the case has been filed, a local judge wasted no time hearing the case. The Judge has ruled the contract is void and unenforceable. An online source explains:

 In what is the second legislative victory for House speaker Richard Corcoran (pictured), on Tuesday, Judge Karen Gievers said that Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie failed to comply with a requirement of Florida law that states that certain contracts have to be pre-approved by the Legislature prior to signing. Judge Gievers 15-page ruling said that in signing the contract, with IGT Global Solutions Corp., a subsidiary of London-based International Game Technology (IGT), and obligating the state to nearly $13 million more than was authorized by the Legislature, the agency overstepped its budgetary authority.

Judge Gievers declared the contract, which would run until 2028, “void and unenforceable,” which means the agency will have to reconfigure a new contract to provide the Florida Lottery with a selection of solutions and services including Powerball and other ticket games.

In a joint statement with Judiciary Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor and Rules Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami, Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said “Today’s decision is a victory for the taxpayer and the rule of law,” and, “It reinforces the idea that respecting the separation of powers is not an arcane idea or an out-of-date philosophy,” according to the /Tampa Bay Times.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Advertisements

Florida Lottery Could Double Gambling Under Major Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing efforts to expand gambling in Florida. Most efforts have focused on new mega casinos, expanding the amount of slot machines that operate in the state, or adding new card games to various gambling facilities, whether in electronic or actual card form. But one danger that can often be overlooked stems from the lottery. Florida has operated a large lottery for some time, but now the dangers to Florida families could potentially double under a new major expansion contact. The Times Union online explains:

The Florida Lottery – which just registered more than $6 billion in annual sales — is in line for a large expansion due to a massive new contract that state officials signed this month. Lottery officials, who report to Gov. Rick Scott, signed a 13-year contract worth more than $700 million with IGT Global Solutions covering major aspects of the lottery, including the systems used to sell tickets for games such as Powerball and Mega Millions. 

One big change in the contract is a plan to nearly triple the number of automated ticket machines capable of selling both scratch-off tickets and those for online games such as Powerball. This would increase the number of machines statewide from 2,000 to 5,500. The contract also calls for a new smartphone application that will let players check their tickets and allow them to enter second chance sweepstakes that the Lottery also offers.

The state of Florida is hopeful see huge revenue gains, but many see the downside to making losers of its people and additional issues with deals that expand gambling without involving the legislature or the looking to the will of the people. The Times New Union continue:

State Sen. Rob Bradley questioned the plans by lottery officials to expand their gambling operations. He noted that this past year legislators considered bills that would have limited some of the tickets they can sell.

“If there are portions of the agreement that result in expansion of the lottery, that’s a cause of concern,” said Bradley, a north Florida Republican who has been in charge of the Senate committee that regulates gambling.

“This is a government sponsored enterprise,” Bradley added. “We have an extra obligation to make sure we are not preying on individuals addicted to gaming. We have to make sure we are not focusing on populations who can’t afford to be spending their hard earned dollars on gaming.” 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


On Wake of Lottery Secretary Resignation Scandal, Bill Introduced to allow Florida Lottery Tickets to be Sold Online

Casino Watch Focus has reported on some recent negative press involving the sudden resignation of the Florida Lottery secretary for allegations of misusing state credit cards and inappropriate vacations. While that issue will be investigated, it casts a negative shadow on those running the Lottery. The timing wont help garner public support for trusting the Lottery to honorably run an online lottery, which has been proposed through a bill in the Florida House. A local Florida news affiliate explains how such legislation is even possible:

Capitalizing on a recent change in federal law, legislation has been filed to allow the Florida Lottery to sell tickets online.

The bill, SB 270 by Sen. Gwen Margolis (D-Miami Beach), is aimed at broadening the Lottery’s revenue base to include out-of-state customers and occasional players who might be enticed to play more frequently if online tickets were an option.

The concept, however, is attracting criticism from social conservatives, who warn that expanding the Lottery is tantamount to expanding gambling, which they argue can have a corrosive effect on families.

Even some regular players are skeptical of the legislation. “I don’t trust anybody where I’m asked to put a debit card or something like that, with my information in there. I just don’t,” said Lottery player Kimberly Wilson.

Beyond those who have reason to not trust the organization in light of the recent scandal or those who just generally don’t trust online gambling or providing personal info online, there is also opposition from the stores that sell the current, physical tickets, both in support of legislation to reverse the Obama ruling making these online lotteries legal on the federal level, as well as general opposition on the state level The National Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS) explains:

At the federal level, NACS supports legislation in the House and Senate, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 707 and S. 1668, respectively), to reverse a 2011 U.S. Justice Department decision that re-interpreted the 1961 Wire Act—a 50-year-old law that prohibited online gambling.

Lottery ticket sales generate substantial in-store traffic for convenience stores, and the frequent lottery customer purchases additional items when they purchase their lottery tickets. In fact, on 95% of their store visits, lottery customers purchased at least one other merchandise product in addition to lottery. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Financial Credit Card Scandal leads to Florida Lottery Secretary’s Resignation

Casino Watch Focus has reported on some questionable actions from the Florida Lottery, both in terms of policy, through online lottery expansion, and through promotional choices, when the Florida Lottery blurred the NCAA gambling lines by using college football teams in their gambling promotions. Now its being reported that the lottery secretary Connie Barnes has been caught up in a financial scandal, abusing state money by using it for lavish vacations of other personal items. An editorial by myPalmBeachPost online explains:

If only we could all hit the Florida Lottery as well as the woman who’s been running it. Cynthia O’Connell acted as though being Lottery Secretary was a kind of jackpot. Last year, she took nine weeks of vacation from her $141,000 job. She also charged nearly $30,000 in subsidized travel and ran up late fees on her Lottery credit card at department stores, grocery stores, hair salons, car washes and the dentist.

She announced her resignation on Aug. 28, just before the Lottery released her credit card records to the Associated Press. Her tenure will be remembered here chiefly for the scandal exposed by The Palm Beach Post in which retailers were illegally cashing in winning tickets to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars — and Lottery officials basically shrugged.

A far more complete investigation will be conducted by the Senate. In the meantime, in what appears to be a precautionary move, the company credit cards of other employees are being restricted. The Blaze reports: 

Lottery officials also announced that they were suspending the use of American Express corporate cards that had been issued to 70 department employees because of the inquiry by The Associated Press. 

State Sen. Rob Bradley, the chairman of the Senate panel that oversees gambling in the state, said the circumstances surrounding O’Connell’s resignation will be scrutinized by his committee this fall.

“Obviously the Lottery has performed very well from a revenue standpoint, but we cannot lose sight that the Department of Lottery is a state agency like other state agencies,” said Bradley, a Republican from Fleming Island. “We have a high standard in the Senate for all state agencies, particularly when it comes to being focused on preventing waste and making sure operational expenses are kept in line.”

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


No Casinos’ New Video Warns of ‘Gambling Creep’

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the group No Casinos to educate the public as to the dangers of expanded gambling in Florida. One major strategy by legislators is to implement expanded gambling in very small increments so the public at large wont notice the true scale of the expansion, similar to frog in boiling water. No Casinos’s new video hopes to warn the public about this strategy. The Saint Peters Blog explains: 

Despite best intentions of lawmakers, gaming expansion in Florida will always result in a form of “gambling creep,” says anti-gambling group *No Casinos*.

“Gambling Creep” tracks the spread of casino gambling from Las Vegas to Atlantic City and beyond during the late 1970s through current lobbying efforts in Tallahassee to bring the world’s largest “destination resort” casinos to Florida.

The three-minute video examines each stage of what No Casinos calls a “seemingly simple and benign expansion,” from pari-mutuels and the Florida lottery to tribal Indian gaming rights. Inevitably, they all contribute to unintended growth in the gambling industry within the state.

“History shows us very clearly that every so-called ‘limited’ expansion of gambling in Florida has always led to more gambling than was promised,” said No Casinos President John Sowinski.

No Casinos’ has made the video available online HERE or below.  It really is a great recap of how gambling expansion started in Florida and how has snowballed throughout the years.

 

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Lottery Blurs NCAA Gambling Lines by Using College Football Teams in Promotion

Casino Watch Focus has long reported that the NCAA has a strong anti-gambling stance.  They have a strict policy preventing players and staff from gambling on games, and they almost always legally oppose expanded gambling efforts that put college games at risk.  Various state are allowed to allow sports gambling, the most notable being Nevada, and they allow gambling on NCAA sporting events.  Florida allows various forms of gambling, including a lottery, track racing and tribal casinos.  Recently, the Florida Lottery introduced a way to use the NCAA name to promote gambling, while not technically engaging in sports betting.  The USA Today explains:

Two of Florida’s long-time college football rivals are coming together in a new contest: To sell lottery tickets.

The Florida Lottery is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars so it can use the logos of the University of Florida and Florida State University on a new $2 scratch-off lottery game aimed squarely at football fans.

The “$50,000 Gridiron Cash” tickets went on sale recently. The game not only features cash prizes, but it will give ticket buyers between now and November a chance to win other prizes, including season tickets and even bowl tickets to games featuring the Gators or Seminoles.

While it has been routine for the Lottery to advertise at football games or promotional events, the USA Today explains that using team logos in this manner is a significant shift in policy and very few have been willing to comment:

It’s been routine for years to have the Florida Lottery advertise at football games and do promotional events with state colleges. But paying to use the team logos on scratch-off tickets marks a major step up.

The NCAA has maintained a strong stance against gambling, but it referred questions to the two schools.

Florida State President Eric Barron said Friday that he was unaware of the ticket promotion until asked about it by a reporter.

University of Florida President Bernie Machen did not respond to a question emailed to him by the Associated Press, but a spokesman for the athletics department defended the arrangement by noting that it has had a lengthy relationship with the lottery.

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Online Lottery in Florida could become a possibility because of the Obama Administration

Casino Watch Focus has reported that an Obama Administration ruling on the 1961 Wire Act last year opened the door for states to allow online gambling.  Gambling expansion debate in Florida has primarily focused on new mega casino’s and local slot machine referendums, but now A Tallahassee ABC news affiliate is reporting that a bill to allow the purchase of lottery tickets online has been filed:

The legislation, Senate Bill 266, was filed by Fla. Senator Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) on January 17. The measure is co-sponsored by Fla. Representative Joe Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach) through House Bill 275.

The bill would give the Department of the Lottery the right to create and administer a program that provides for the sale of lottery tickets online, without using an online lottery retailer. Customers would be able to buy a ticket “via a subscription mechanism,” according to the bill. The department would also be able to create the rules governing the online sales.

WTXL spoke with Senator Margolis, who said that the move was a “good idea.” However, she said that officials have “nothing to rely on” when it comes to how online lottery programs are performing in other states.

Only two states have such programs and opposition ranges from upset retail outlets to concerns over easy access and underage gamblers.  The bill is in its early phase, so there is still time to contact your local representatives.

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION