Lottery warning bill advances in the House

Scratching lottery tickets
Ron DeSantis vetoed similar legislation last year.

A requirement for warning labels on Florida Lottery tickets moved a step forward in the House. That’s despite concerns it could reduce revenues for education by dissuading people from playing the game. Supporter argue the warnings are necessary to protect gambling addicts.

The legislation (HB 991) advanced in the Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee by an 8-3 vote. All three nay votes came from Democrats.

But the bill could have one very important Republican opponent. Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a similar bill last year.

“As Governor, one of my key priorities is making higher education affordable for Florida families,” DeSantis wrote in his veto message. “This bill reduces the Lottery’s ability to continue to maximize revenues for education and negatively impacts Florida students.”

But bill sponsor Rep. Will Robinson maintains Florida’s schools don’t need to be funded on the backs of those with gambling problems.

Also, his bill this year requires a less daunting label message than ever. If passed, it will simply require the words ‘PLAY RESPONSIBLY’ to appear on tickets and marketing materials.

He notes those are words the Lottery already regularly employs in its marketing and messaging.

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

The legislation previously advanced in the House Gaming Control Subcommittee, where only one member voted against it. Now the bill heads to the Commerce Committee before heading to the House floor.

Meanwhile, companion legislation (SB 1318) in the Senate has not been scheduled in committee.

The legislation last year, though, surged through to a Senate vote toward the end of Session, so that may yet take place again.

The language has historically drawn wide condemnation from national and international lottery associations.

The opposition and anxieties within the Florida Lottery have now been enough to sway two Governors, DeSantis and Rick Scott, to veto legislation even when it passed through in chambers of the Legislature.

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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