No Casinos all in on lottery ticket warning labels

lottery tickets Florida (Large)
The organization has fought gambling expansions in Florida.

No Casinos went all-in for legislation requiring warning labels on Florida Lottery tickets.

The organization, a long-time opponent of gambling expansion in Florida, announced its support days after the World Lottery Association slammed the bill.

“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.”

No Casinos was formed in 1977 by then-Gov. Reuben Askew after New Jersey first legalized casinos. Askew figured the move would lead to more legal gambling, particularly in tourist areas.

The organization since then has fought growth in major forms of gambling in the Sunshine State.

The position on the new bill (HB 629) shows a continued belief the Florida Lottery counts as gaming, state-run or not.

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.”

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Will Robinson in the House and supported by state Sen. Rob Bradley in the Senate, calls for short warnings on the face of tickets.

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.

Former Gov. Rick Scott vetoed similar legislation in 2017.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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