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Lottery warning labels headed to Senate floor

“This bill doesn’t help the people who need help.”

A new warning label could be coming to Florida Lottery tickets.

Last week, the full House approved a bill by Bradenton Rep. Will Robinson (HB 629) that would place a large warning label on every ticket sold as well as on video displays at ticket retailers and machines.

The wording of the proposed warning label reads as follows: “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.”

Though the bill sped through its committee stops in the House, the Senate version (SB 1264) was never heard in committee.

The seemingly dead plan re-emerged Tuesday with the strong support of Senate budget chief Rob Bradley.

After approving an amendment by Sen. Travis Hutson gutting a provision blocking online sales of lottery tickets, the committee gave the bill the green light.

Even without that language the proposal could cause a massive dip in lottery payouts to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, according to an analysis by the state Revenue Estimating Conference.

“Would it be a fair assumption that with the warning label that less tickets would be purchased?” asked Democratic Sen. Bill Montford.

Bradley said it would impact sales but added that the bill wouldn’t necessarily translate to fewer education dollars.

“Do you want education money coming from people who are playing the lottery who can’t afford it, or do you want it to come from sales taxes or other taxes,” Bradley said. “There won’t be less money but different money.”

Lottery Secretary John Poppell had a different take.

“This bill isn’t the same bill that you considered in 2017,” he said, citing REC estimates that show the warning label could slash education payouts by $64 million in the first full year.

High-end estimates put the impact on education funding closer to $240 million. Those estimates are based on the effectiveness of warning labels for other addictive products, such as cigarettes.

“This bill doesn’t help the people who need help,” Poppell said, adding that all tickets have already have a hotline number, 1-888-ADMIT-IT, printed on them.

The bill has no other committee references and is now ready for a floor vote in the upper chamber.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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