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Jim Kennedy: Florida Lottery — investing in growth for education funding

Winning an $8.4 million top prize from the Florida Lottery as a Tallahassee man recently learned after scratching a $10,000 A Week for Life game — or even $1 million — makes for big headlines.

Behind the scenes, the Florida Lottery’s impressive returns to education are even bigger news. Since 1988, the Lottery has contributed more than $32.1 billion to public education in the state. More than 800,000 Florida students have attended college on a Bright Futures Scholarship made possible by the Lottery’s returns.

Generating $32.1 billion in 30 years for education makes the Florida lottery one of the top-performing lotteries in the U.S. In fact, it could school even the brightest business leaders from other industries in return on investment.

The Florida Lottery’s consistent, successful strategy? Investing in responsible growth and innovation for all stakeholders to grow its most productive product line: instant “scratch-off” games.

Scratch-off games account for 69.4 percent of the Florida Lottery’s annual sales, which last year translated to more than $900 million of its $1.7 billion+ in contributions to education. It was the Lottery’s seventh consecutive year of record-breaking profits for education.

In FY 2018 alone, more than $3.3 billion in prizes to players and $269 million in commissions to retailers circulated in the Florida economy in local community businesses throughout the state thanks to scratch-off games.

That’s why it’s important the Florida Lottery continues to invest in best-in-class innovation for its annual $4.65 billion scratch-off product line, which grew retail sales by 9.6 percent last year. The cost of innovation to the Lottery represents only a small fraction of the financial benefits the innovation delivers to Florida education funding. In fact, the annual cost of the Lottery’s instant games contract is paid for by just a few days of instant game sales.

By virtue of its state charter, the Florida Lottery is mandated to operate as an entrepreneurial business. For the last 30 years, it’s done just that. If the Florida Lottery’s goal is to generate more profits for education to keep up with the rapidly increasing student population in the state, it must continue to maximize profit dollars generated from sales of world-class products and services.

The Florida Lottery’s entrepreneurial spirit with its scratch-off games has made education funding bigger, better and by far a leading example to all U.S. lotteries of what is possible through a winning partnership with Scientific Games, the largest and most successful creator, manufacturer and manager of lottery instant games in the world.

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Jim Kennedy is the Lottery Group Chief Executive and Executive Vice President of the Scientific Games Corporation.

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