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Citing Impact on Education Funding, DeSantis Kills ‘Addiction’ Warning on Lottery Tickets

| June 30, 2019

For what it's worth. (Rimse Nefert)

For what it’s worth. (Rimse Nefert)

Lawmakers seeking to slap gambling-addiction warnings on state lottery tickets and advertising once again failed to scratch out a winner.

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, noting potential impacts to money for education, vetoed a controversial bill (HB 629) that sought to require the following warnings to be prominently displayed on the front of all lottery tickets: “Warning: Lottery games may be addictive,” or “Play responsibly.”

DeSantis in a letter accompanying his veto noted that Florida Lottery officials expressed concerns the new warning requirements could affect marketing and participation in multi-state games.

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

The veto came as DeSantis signed seven other bills on Friday.

The lottery bill, sponsored by Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, had been a priority of House leaders.

Former Gov. Rick Scott, now a U.S. Senator, vetoed a similar measure in 2017, saying it would impose “burdensome regulations” on the games and retailers.

The Florida Lottery, which already encourages customers to “play responsibly” and promotes a toll-free number about gambling problems, would have become the first in the nation to include warning labels similar to what can be found on cigarette packs.

Lottery officials argued the change could cause an annual reduction between $79.4 million and $232.7 million in money that games generate for education.

They also warned the added gambling-addiction language could require the need to print larger tickets, which would increase costs and potentially affect contracts with retailers that provide vending machine games.

In addition, they contended the warnings could affect the state’s participation in multi-state games, such as Powerball and Mega Millions, and end scratch-off games that feature the TV shows “The Price is Right” and “Wheel of Fortune” and board games Monopoly and Scrabble.

“The regulations imposed by the bill would impact the Lottery’s ability to continue to take advantage of all these avenues and have the potential to impact the revenues available for educational enhancement,” DeSantis wrote in the letter.

State economists, who analyzed the potential effects of the bill, didn’t take such a dire view of the changes. They questioned if other states involved in the multi-state games would risk losing revenue from Florida because of the warnings and questioned whether adding warning labels would drive away retailers and consumers.

Don Langston, staff director for the House Finance & Tax Committee, said during a meeting this month that even if the state lost the Monopoly game, people would still want to play.

Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research, said at the same meeting that she didn’t anticipate a significant exodus of vendors “because they’re making money” from the Lottery.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

5 Responses for “Citing Impact on Education Funding, DeSantis Kills ‘Addiction’ Warning on Lottery Tickets”

  1. Pogo says:

    @desantis’s Republican party values, aka, what would trump do?

    And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
    – Matthew 27:35, Holy Bible KJV

  2. Michael Cocchiola says:

    O.k., so lottery officials actually want to hook players into an addiction. All for our kids. Right.

  3. A Concerned Observer says:

    The Florida Lottery was sold largely on the backs of the claim that some unspecified percentage of the profits from the lottery would go toward schools. How could the voters not be behind this plan? The bill passed and we have the Florida State Lottery. Some time later, I heard that whatever monies were allocated from the Florida Lottery profits to the schools were simply then deducted from the previously existing sources to the schools, resulting in an actual zero gain to the schools. Those funds previously directed to the schools were then simply reallocated elsewhere (?) in the State budget and that they were the beneficiary of the lottery profits. I would very much appreciate an honest reply from a reliable source and not opinions from what anyone else may have been told about the lottery contributions to Florida’s schools. Is this political shell game an actual practice of did fake news exist way back then? Is this recent decision not to include the gambling warning to the lottery tickets driven by a possible loss to revenue to our schools or whichever undisclosed hole in the budget is the actual lottery profits benefit? Remember folks. The odds of actually winning anything on the Florida Lottery is a gamble, and a gamble overwhelmingly slanted toward purveyors of the lottery. Also, I strongly suspect the large majority of those playing the lottery are those that can least afford to lose their bet. Yeah, I know. You cannot win if you do not play. Well, it’s a suckers bet to be sure.

  4. Dave says:

    How disgusting to think its ok to help promote people’s gambling addiction as long as it “benefits”the children. We all know that money doesnt truly all make it to the kids. This bill would have helped people with addiction make a better choice. But what our children are being taught is it’s ok to benefit yourself at the risk of doing damage to others.

  5. tulip says:

    A warning message about the lottery being addictive is just about as useless as warnings on cigarette packages, some meds and other things. If a person really wants something, the fact that it can be addictive doesn’t matter to that person.

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