Category Archives: lottery

Missouri Pro-Sports Teams look to Initiative Petitions to Legalize Sports Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting in Missouri.  Various attempts have been made over the years to pass a bill through the legislature, but all efforts have so far failed.  A recent plan was reported that would target the Missouri lottery as the sports gambling regulatory body, but nothing has been formally introduced to move forward.  Now, it would appear Missouri pro-sports teams have grown tired of the legislative process and have instead pushed forward what can only be described as a chaotic, unorganized, and desperate attempt to get some kind of sports betting legalized.  Literally anything would seem to work for them considering they filed 9 different initiative petitions in hopes that something will stick.  An online source explains: 

A Missouri lawyer last week filed nine ballot initiative petitions that would legalize sports betting with the secretary of state’s office. The proposals all call for the Missouri Gaming Commission to regulate wagering, for betting to be limited to professional sports teams only, and for tax revenue to be earmarked for education and road projects.

Beyond that, there are key differences, and, in total, the proposals are similar to some of the many sports betting bills that have been filed in the General Assembly over the last four years.

Sen. Denny Hoskins and Rep. Dan Shaul say they’ll try again in 2022 and have plans to pre-file bills next month. “I sense there’s a frustration at the lack of movement on the bills,” Shaul told Sports Handle in August.

Hoskins has his concerns about letting the state’s professional teams drive the process. “Obviously I am for sports betting,” he told the Post-Dispatch last week. “But I do have concerns when we put something in the Missouri Constitution without proper vetting. “There are a lot of details to sports betting, including tax rates, application fees, and annual administrative fees.”

Given there are nine different petitions, all with different approaches, its clear this method for a properly vetted and well regulated plan would be incredibly risky and likely to leave holes in consumer protections.  

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Guest Article:  Bans on Sports Gambling and Lotteries Would Pump-Prime the U.S. Economic System in the New Age of Covid

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the rush of sports betting that has been legalized over the past few years, and a lot of jurisdictions have authorized such gambling during the middle of the Covid-19 global pandemic.  With many people at home and online gambling becoming more and more popular, one has to wonder how that has impacted the economy, especially after economic stimulus checks were being handed out.  Today’s guest author, John Kindt, University of Illinois professor emeritus, who has testified before Congress and legislatures on business and legal policy issues, particularly in the area of gambling, examined such a question and explains how bans on sports gambling could impact the economy in the University of Illinois Law Review:

A strong economy is essential for U.S. national security. The economic downturn caused by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has again highlighted this basic economic principle.

In the context of legalized gambling, Nobel-Prize Laureate Paul Samuelson emphasized that gambling creates “no new money or goods”1 and “subtracts from the national income.”2 The economic multiplier effect of “consumer dollars” is negated or otherwise substantially diminished when consumer dollars are diverted into gambling dollars.3

Therefore, the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stimulus Act (CARES Act)4 wasted billions of dollars of the $260 billion allocated for unemployment benefits and the $300 billion allocated in payments to U.S. citizens.5 Intended to put food and other necessities of life in consumer pantries, billions of CARES Act dollars were instead misdirected into lotteries—creating record lottery sales, for example, in Georgia and Texas during the first 30 days of the CARES Act.6

While shutting down productive consumer businesses, governors declared lotteries to be “essential”7—although historically states were receiving only 27 cents per gambled dollar.8 More importantly, U.S. lotteries take $85 billion out of the U.S. consumer economy each year (with only $23 billion going to state budgets).9

Accordingly, the cheapest and most effective way to pump-prime the consumer economy would be to shut down the lotteries. This $85 billion would thereby morph into a consumer economic multiplier resulting in approximately $255 billion in new economic spending on consumer goods (or over $1 trillion in 4 years).10

In his 1999 Martin Luther King Day speech in Chicago, Jesse Jackson emphasized that “[t]he new chains of slavery happen to be . . . lottery tickets.”11 Later in 1999, the state lotteries were savaged by the congressional U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission, in its Final Report (“NGISC Final Report”).12Academically, it is well-established that lotteries make “poor people poorer”13 and target-market to minorities14 contributing to gambling addiction rates of: African Americans (2–4%); Native Americans (2–6%), Hispanics (2–3%), and Caucasians (1.2–2%).15

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, these social and economic concerns prompted Mr. Les Bernal, the national director of the charity Stop Predatory Gambling (“SPG”), to write to all U.S. governors and state attorneys general detailing the need to close the state lotteries.16

The 2020 movie Money Machine,17 however, documented the power of the gambling lobby in suppressing adverse facts. While Columbine and Sandy Hook remain in the psyche of the U.S. public, Money Machine details how the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas killings have been sanitized18 via “a web of corruption and cover-ups that make the Vegas of yesteryear, when it was still run by the mob, seem positively quaint.”19 The biggest mass murderer in U.S. history, Stephen Paddock, killed 59 people including himself and injured 413 by gunfire.20 It would be difficult to argue that Paddock did not satisfy the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for being an addicted or problem gambler.21

All of these facts and trends are well-known to the gambling industry, whose business model has morphed toward abandoning brick and mortar gambling facilities in favor of widespread internet gambling—utilizing sports gambling to build pressure on government decision-makers. Gambling lobbyists are looking to leverage the COVID pandemic and the public’s natural affinity for sports into real-time 24/7 gambling on cell phones and throughout video games.22 In the age of COVID, bans on sports gambling and lotteries would inexpensively and effectively pump-prime the U.S. economic system with billions of dollars in consumer dollars—without CARES-type loans being incurred by the U.S. Treasury.

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


Missouri Lottery Targeted as Sports Gambling Expansion Regulatory Body

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various efforts to expand gambling in Missouri by legalizing sports gambling.  The Supreme Court has allowed for each state to set its own sports gambling regulations now, and many states have started expanding their gambling offerings into the sports realm.  However, in Missouri, most gambling outside of the lottery, or some charity bingo/fundraisers, is limited to the 13 licensed casinos that operate on either the Missouri or Mississippi rivers.  That hasn’t stopped those from looking into ways of expanding sports gambling in any means possible and it looks like the Missouri Lottery is the new regulatory target.  The Washington Examiner reports:

[I]f Missouri lawmakers allowed new products, such as sports wagering, and took steps to “modernize our channels of distribution” through online lottery ticket sales, revenues would dramatically increase – and quickly.

That was the pitch Wednesday by Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Reardon and Missouri Gaming Commission General; Counsel Edward Grewach before the Senate Economic Development Committee,

Casino operators are among those lobbying lawmakers to legalize sports gaming. Thirty-two states have done so since 2018’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, but efforts in Missouri have fallen short in consecutive sessions.

Reardon said the Missouri Lottery should administer any “new products” authorized by lawmakers,   noting 70% of global online sports wagering is conducted by lotteries.

Grewach said if lawmakers allow sports betting, only wagers placed by a person physically present in the state to a company also residing in Missouri would be legal.

Any proposal to do so, he cautioned, would “create some regulatory challenges for us.”

In addition to regulatory challenges pertaining to carrying out a lottery based sports gambling scheme, there would also be questions about the constitutionality of sports betting in Missouri, where gambling is expressly limited to casinos and the regulation through the Missouri Gaming Commission.  It would be expected that both those hoping to see sports betting remain outlawed in Missouri, and those whose interests align with casinos will object should such legislation find success in the Missouri Legislature. 

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


Missouri Senate Proposes Gambling Expansion at a Time Many View as Socially Irresponsible

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion issues in Missouri.  The most recent issues have been the illegal gambling machines in places like gas stations and truck stops and those hoping for a new casino at the Lake of the Ozarks.  This specific expansion policy involves increased pull tabs at truck stops, and several Missouri legislators thing the idea is socially irresponsible.  The Columbia Daily Tribune reports:

The Missouri Senate passed its spending plan Tuesday with language allowing the state lottery to install 100 new pull-tab machines throughout the state and open up truck stops to the games for the first Time. Currently, only 500 are allowed and they can only be installed in veteran and fraternal organizations. The pull-tab name refers to the perforated tabs covering slot-machine style symbols on tickets dispensed by the machines. Players pull back the tabs to see if they’ve won a prize.

But a number of lawmakers objected to the idea, calling the expansion morally wrong. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said it would be “a direct offense to our low-income people who will divert their money to things like this.” “This bothers me a lot,” he added.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said the same thing and that it would be even worse at a time when people are reeling from the pandemic and the resulting downturn. “With people not thinking as straight as they normally would with all the pressures of the stay-at-home and lack of community and other things that would stabilize a person, I think the impact would be even greater than it would at another time,” he said.

Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield, added that the idea “disgusted” him. “I’m not a fan of funding our schools through gambling,” he said.

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


States Urged to Temporarily Shut down Lottery Gambling as Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Checks are Sent Out

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various impacts Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry. All across the country, casinos are being closed, alongside other businesses, as stay at home orders are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  Obviously this has lead to a sharp downturn in the economy and the government has responded with economic stimulus checks.  One group is wisely suggesting to state legislators to temporarily suspend their lotteries to help ensure that money can be spent on essentials, and not sent back to the government through state funded gambling.  An online source reports:

Stop Predatory Gambling, which has been a familiar face at online gambling hearings on Capitol Hill over the years, on Monday sent a letter to governors of states with lotteries. SPG National Director Les Bernal said in his letter that federal relief money sent to families could be used to “subsidize state lotteries.”

Bernal called for lotteries to temporarily shut down by arguing, in part, that people shouldn’t be able to spend their stimulus checks on that form of state-sanctioned gambling. Casinos across the country have closed, sports betting has come to a near standstill, and only four states have some form of legal online casino gaming. That has left the lottery as the only widespread form of gambling still active.

“We are writing to call on you to immediately shut down the marketing and selling of all state lottery gambling games until the financial turmoil caused by the coronavirus has passed,” Bernal said.

Such advocacy is solidly grounded as those with the least economic ability tend to be the ones to spend the most on the lottery.  Les Bernal addresses these issues in a press release that accompanied the letter:

As part of its letter to state officials, Stop Predatory Gambling included its 2020 Briefing on State Lotteries also issued on Monday. The report spotlighted lotteries as one of the root causes why more than 60% of Americans had less than $1000 in savings before the coronavirus pandemic occurred.

The report found “state governments have turned a nation of small earners, who could be small savers, into a nation of habitual gamblers on course to lose more than $1 trillion of wealth to government-sanctioned gambling over the next eight years. At least half of this wealth – $500 billion – will be lost to state lotteries.”

Bernal hopes the lottery shutdown and the new report will bring sorely-needed attention to “America’s most-neglected problem today.”

“Building assets and the accumulating and investing of savings, are the keys to financial peace,” Bernal said.   “A home, a college fund, retirement accounts, a stock portfolio—these assets are the hallmarks of middle and upper class America, and they are all the result of savings. Creating wealth by the accumulation and investment of savings is the direct opposite of what state lotteries represent and encourage.”

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New Florida Lottery Bill Seeks to Prevent Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by legislators to pass meaningful gambling legislation in the area of state sold lottery tickets.  Last year a bill was passed that required warning labels on Florida lottery tickets. That bill was vetoed by the Governor, citing a loss of revenue due to belief that large warning labels would cause less gambling on lottery tickets. This year, a new bill is being introduced that seeks to address the Governor’s concerns, while still preventing gambling expansion on other fronts.  Florida Politics explains:

The measures require the “play responsibly” message to be printed on the lottery ticket and take up at least 5% of the ticket’s total surface area. That’s a reduction from previous proposed warning messages, which were more detailed and took up more space on those tickets.

The legislation also mandates the message be displayed in TV, electronic or paper ads, with the same requirement that the message take up 5% of the surface area of the advertisement. For radio ads, the warning must be issued at the end of the promotion.

Both new bills include a provision barring lottery games that are tied to athletic events. “The [Department of Lottery] may not authorize the operation of a lottery game in which the winner is chosen on the basis of the activities or outcomes of one or more sporting events,” *the bill reads*.

Finally, the legislation would require $500,000 annually for an advertising program warning against gambling addiction. “The department shall, subject to competitive bidding, contract for such services, which must include an advertising program to encourage responsible gambling practices and to publicize a telephone help line,” the measure reads.

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Missouri’s Illegal Gambling Machines are Hurting Public Education Funding

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the on going issue of illegal gambling machines cropping up all over Missouri. These machines are essentially unregulated slot machines in areas outside of Missouri’s regulated casinos. Enforcement issues have been cited, as no one seems to be responsible for shutting them down. This has lead to their proliferation and only now are lawmakers starting to notice.

One of the bigger issues being reported is how money is being syphoned away from public educating funding. Gambling money being used to fund public education is already a troubling proposition, as it general boils down to a shell game of transferred money. Essentially the state has a budget for education. Then a tax on gambling is proposed, normally in exchange for expanded gambling, and a specified amount is then transferred to education. The problem is the original budget is almost always reduced or set in anticipation of the gambling money. It’s rarely ever an actual increase in funding for public education. So it/s even more critical that the expected revenues are collected as the state has made itself reliant on such gambling funds. Now that these gambling machines are spreading and pulling people away from legal, regulated and taxed gambling facilities, and state lottery sales, its public education that’s taking a hit. An online source explains: 

The Missouri Lottery’s executive director testified Thursday in Jefferson City that illegal slot machines are hurting public education in the Show-Me State. Illegal slot machines can be found in bars, restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores.

Scheve Reardon testified during a 90-minute hearing before the House Special Interim Committee on Gaming, which is chaired by State Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial. Shaul tells the audience that illegal slot machines cost Missouri education at least $50 million last year. He says the alleged illegal slot machines are hurting the Lottery, thereby impacting classrooms.

“The (Missouri) Lottery is losing revenue here, because of these alleged illegal machines. So are the (Missouri’s 13) casinos, so is everybody across that’s funding the state. The state is losing money because of these,” says Shaul. Thursday’s hearing was the committee’s second in two weeks. The Missouri Gaming Commission testified before the committee on August 22, saying the state needs a coordinated effort to stop the illegal machines.

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UPDATE: Florida Gov. DeSantis Vetoes Lottery Ticket Warning Labels

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing issues surrounding the Florida Lottery, with the most recent being a bill that sought to place warning labels on lottery tickets. The warnings would be visible on the ticket and remind players that lottery games could become addictive and to play responsibly. There was immediate opposition from those who relied on gambling as a source of revenue as they seemed to believe the warning labels would be effective and thus reduce their coffers. No Casino’s John Sowindki responded by pointing out the moral dilemma in funding education off gambling addicts, but it would appear that position is being rejected by Florida Gov DeSantis as he has vetoed the bill the passed the Florida legislature. An online source reports:

Lawmakers seeking to slap gambling-addiction warnings on state lottery tickets and advertising once again failed to scratch out a winner.

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, noting potential impacts to money for education, vetoed a controversial bill (HB 629) that sought to require the following warnings to be prominently displayed on the front of all lottery tickets: “Warning: Lottery games may be addictive,” or “Play responsibly.”

DeSantis in a letter accompanying his veto noted that Florida Lottery officials expressed concerns the new warning requirements could affect marketing and participation in multi-state games.

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Florida Gov Encouraged to Pass Lottery Ticket Warnings

Casino Watch Focus has reported on a Florida Bill that would call for warning labels to be placed on the front of physical state lottery tickets sold, as well as prevent online sales in the future. The warning labels would be visible and warn that playing lottery games constitutes gambling and may lead to gambling addiction. Those in support of using gambling as the means to fund education took issue with the bill and drafted a letter. No-Casino’s John Sowindki addressed the problems with the letter and encouraged passage. Florida Politics reports: 

“The lottery industry would rather pretend that there are no adverse consequences to their regressive and addictive enterprise,” said No Casinos President *John Sowinski*. “Clearly there are.” Sowinski goes after specific points raised in a letter from World Lottery Association President *Rebecca Paul Hargrove* to Gov. *Ron DeSantis.*

Hargrove argues requiring warning labels on the front of lottery tickets threatens education revenues in Florida and sets bad precedent nationwide. “The instant scratch-off games have been around for over 45 years, and sales of these games continue to grow every year,” Hargrove wrote, “but more importantly the sales of these games continue to grow funding for good causes every year.”

Sowinski suggests Hargrove gives up the game in her search for further lottery sales.“Rebecca Paul Hargrove’s letter is basically an admission that if Floridians are properly warned about the addictive nature of scratch-off games and other lottery products, that some will choose to not spend money on them,” Sowinski said, “which is the entire purpose of this good legislation.”

Moreover, Sowinski then brings into question the very nature of raising funds off those that are addicts in the first place. Florida Politics continues:

The legislation requires ticket labels read either “WARNING: LOTTERY GAMES MAY BE ADDICTIVE” or simply “PLAY RESPONSIBLY.”

Sowinski scoffed at the reluctance to warn against dangerous behavior or to demonstrate responsibility.

“The World Lottery Association’s letter never disputes the addictive nature of these games,” he said. “The fact is that gambling enterprises, including lotteries, rely on addicts who spend a high volume of money for a large portion of their profits. That they would object to a simple, truthful warning label is obnoxious.”

The bill has been sent to the Governor’s desk and awaits his action.

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DOJ Seeks to get State Online Lottery Lawsuit Dropped

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the Department of Justice’s reversal of the Wire Act and that decision’s impact on online gambling. Many said lawsuits would be the deciding fact as to whether or not they could reverse the out of place Obama Administration’s reinterpretation of the wire act, which lead to the massive expansion of online gambling. One area of concern for states has been the impact on state lotteries, specifically where those state offer online access to their lotteries. The DOJ recently extended the deadline as they wanted to more closely examine the full range of its ruling. The DOJ is now seeking a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by New Hampshire claiming they don’t have standing to sue yet and that the state hasn’t proven that the ruling would even impact them. The Associated Press explains: 

The U.S. Justice Department says in a federal court brief that the New Hampshire Lottery Commission has failed to demonstrate that it wouldn’t be immune from 1960s law enacted to crack down on the mob.

On Thursday, the Justice Department filed the brief in Concord, New Hampshire, in response to a judge’s order for it to clarify its interpretation of the Wire Act. States fear losing at least $220 million annually in lottery profits if the Wire Act is determined to apply to all forms of gambling that crosses state lines.

The department also affirmed any early promise to not prosecute state lotteries or their vendors while it continues to review whether the Wire Act applies to lotteries.

The concern goes beyond the state of New Hampshire. Several states offer online access to their lotteries and some lotteries extent to multiple states. Some believe the intent of the DOJ isn’t to stop lotteries, as Powerball and Mega Millions are too engrained as a societal norm, but the actual transactions might very well fit the original 1960 Wire Act. An online source explains: 

The states are anxiously waiting on a clarification from the Justice Department about its opinion that, if strictly interpreted, would outlaw lottery tickets sold online and prohibit all lottery-related activities that use the internet. Legal experts say Powerball and Mega Millions are at risk if the opinion is read to the letter, which would cost the states billions. 

Seven states now sell lottery tickets online and others offer residents internet-based lottery subscription services.

When state lotteries use the internet to transmit data for online ticket sales, the network signal can cross state lines, and games that are played in multiple state s, like Powerball and Mega Millions, transmit data to a central database out of state, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

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Florida Bill Banning Online Lottery sales Advances with Additional Warnings for Gamblers

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments of the Department of Justice’s decision to restore the wire act to its long standing position that makes online gambling illegal. Many states have an eye on the developments as legal action was threatened by New Jersey and New Hampshire. The topic is also of interest in Florida where many are curious how gambling legislation will move forward in the wake of the Voters in Charge gambling bill being passed that requires statewide voter approval for gambling expansion. The most well know issue centers around sports betting, but online gambling is also of interest. To that extent, a bill is moving forward in the Florida legislature to end the practice of online lottery sales before it gets off the ground. An online source reports:

Florida does not sell lottery tickets over the internet — and if a bill passed Wednesday by the House Gaming Control Subcommittee becomes law, it never will.

While New Hampshire has sued the Department of Justice in a bid to protect the revenues it derives from its online lottery operations, State Rep. Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) wants to the option taken off the table entirely.

The main aim of Robinson’s bill — which was advanced by the committee in a 10-1 vote — is to shut out third-party websites that claim affiliation with the state lottery but actually just buy tickets and mark up prices.

The bill would ban the use of personal electronic devices for the sale and purchase of tickets, ensuring that every ticket sale involves a transaction between a store and an in-person buyer.

“These fraudulent websites are, in my view, illegally advertising when they are not related to the lottery system at all,” he told /Florida Politics/ earlier this week. “The lottery is significantly regulated and that’s for a purpose … The state of Florida wants to make sure the right thing is being sold.”

The bill’s intent goes beyond just selling tickets online however. The Rep. Will Robinson Jr believes people should truly understand how very unlikely the changes of winning the lottery are for would be gamblers. He has proposed additional warnings placed on physical tickets. The Tampa Bay Times explains:

Debate about a bill that would require warnings on lottery tickets quickly turned into a debate on Wednesday about whether anyone in Florida is actually addicted to lottery games, with one lawmaker blasting it as “deceptive.” The bill (HB 629) by state Rep. Will Robinson, Jr., R-Bradenton, would add two warnings to the front of every lottery ticket:

“WARNING: PLAYING A LOTTERY GAME CONSTITUTES GAMBLING AND MAY LEAD TO
ADDICTION AND/OR COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR.”

And, “THE CHANCES OF WINNING A BIG PRIZE ARE VERY LOW.”

Under the bill, those two warnings would take up 10 percent of the face of every lottery card, and they would be required in every Florida Lottery advertisement, including those on television.

But state Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, grilled Robinson during a House Gaming Control Subcommittee meeting about whether he knows of anyone addicted to lottery games. Robinson he didn’t know of any personal examples, but he pointed to news articles out of state. That led Slosberg to come out strongly against the bill.

How many people might be addicted to the games is unclear. But the numbers show that some Floridians spend a staggering amount each year on lottery tickets. Last year, the Florida Lottery sold $6.7 billion in tickets — nearly $400 in tickets for every adult in the state. (The figure doesn’t include tourists, some of whom also play.) And while the Florida Lottery does post the number to a gambling addiction hotline on its website, it doesn’t say anything on its tickets. State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, who used to run a casino consulting company in Las Vegas, disagreed with Slosberg. “The research proves that there are people that become addicted to gambling, and whether it’s 1 percent or 5 percent, people do at times become susceptible to this,” he said. “I know this from my prior life.”

The bill passed the House Gaming Control Subcommittee with only Slosberg voting against it. 

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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.

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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.” 

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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. 

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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