Will Robinson lottery bill up for consideration Monday after 2019 veto
Image via AP.

Powerball jackpot
Lottery officials nationwide fear bill would cost revenue for education funding.

Rep. Will Robinson tries his luck with a House subcommittee on the newest version of a lottery bill.

The Bradenton Republican last year ran legislation through the House restricting electronic lottery games and requiring warnings that compulsive gamblers must play responsibly.

His bill last year passed in the House, and then a less restrictive version passed in the Senate.

But Gov. Ron DeSantis ultimately vetoed the legislation, spooked by concerns from the Florida Lottery and World Lottery Association that the legislation would cause a loss in ticket sales— which in turn would cut tens of millions in annual revenue for the Education Enhancement Trust Fund.

This year, Robinson starts with legislation that already waters down warning labels. All his new bill (HB 991) would require of the lottery would be warnings with the words “Play Responsibly.”

“Frankly, that’s a message already widely used by the Lottery, but it codifies the message in statute,” Robinson said.

Still, the fear of losing business has now caused two governors — DeSantis and Rick Scott — to nix versions of the legislation.

The Gaming Control Subcommittee will hear Robinson’s bill today at 1 p.m.. Meanwhile, companion legislation (SB 1318) has yet to be placed on an agenda for the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee.

Robinson’s bill not only puts warning labels on tickets and all marketing materials for the Lottery. It also outlaws any potential lottery sales determining winners based on the outcome of sporting events.

And addressing electronic sales addresses potential growth in internet sales and to buyers out of state or even overseas. Such sales created a bounty in new sales in other states.

But Robinson remains committed to the legislation, and said the state needs to be careful allowing legal, state-sanctioned gambling to grow unchecked.

“To me, it’s a policy decision as to whether we should expand gambling in Florida,” Robinson said. “I personally believe we should not.”

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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