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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist further embraces gambling with Powerball

Turning aside Jeb Bush's reservations, the Charlie Crist administration has joined Powerball.

Lottery Florida will become the 30th state to join the multi-state lottery game, which is currently offered in 29 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (press release on the jump)

In one of his first acts as governor in 1999, Jeb Bush reversed the decision of the late Lawton Chiles to enter the Powerball lottery. He said it was of "debatable effectiveness" and would hurt the state lottery's chances of achieving long-term stability.

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Lottery announced today that it will join the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) and add Powerball ® to its portfolio of games starting in January 2009.  Florida will become the 30 th state to join the multi-state lottery game, which is currently offered in 29 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Though the Florida Lottery offers one of the strongest lotto games in the nation, it is the only state lottery that does not currently participate in a multi-state lottery game.  Powerball sales in Florida are expected to raise millions of additional dollars for education and increase commissions to the Lottery’s 13,500 retailers, the majority of which are small, independently-owned businesses. The authority to join a multi-state game is expressly granted in the Florida Public Education Lottery Act.

“I applaud the Florida Lottery for continuing its mission of maximizing sales for the state’s education system – benefiting Florida students in all grade levels,” said Governor Charlie Crist.  “Joining Powerball will help ensure that the promise made to Floridians 22 years ago continues to be fulfilled.”

MUSL is a non-profit, government-benefit association owned and operated by its 31 member lotteries, each offering one or more of the games administered by MUSL.  The association operates at the direction of the Board of Directors, which is comprised of the lottery directors for each of the member lotteries.  To coincide with the introduction of Powerball in Florida, the MUSL Board of Directors has approved moving the game drawings to a yet-to-be-determined location in the state.  Powerball drawings are held twice weekly and broadcast to nearly 100 TV stations nationwide live at 10:59 p.m., Eastern Time, currently from West Des Moines, Iowa.

“A key to any business’ success is making a habit of being responsive to its customers.  Florida Lottery players and retailers have been asking for Powerball for many years,” said Florida Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno.  “While some players like to spend a dollar for a Scratch-Off ticket, others would rather take a chance on a mega jackpot – and it doesn’t get any bigger than Powerball!  In addition, the fact that each year millions of tourists visit Florida from states that currently have a multi-state game could give Powerball an extra advantage in our state.  Now they’ll be able to buy their tickets here.”

Celebrating its 20 th anniversary this year, the Florida Lottery has placed greater emphasis on strengthening its product offerings through enhancements to some of its core games and a comprehensive game launch schedule.  This year, the Florida Lottery introduced its first $30 Scratch-Off game, offering players more than $600 million in prizes, as well as the highest payout and best odds of any Florida Lottery Scratch-Off game.  Last month, the agency added a daily midday drawing to CASH 3 TM and PLAY 4 TM .

Consistent with the statutory requirement that the Florida Lottery function as much as possible as an entrepreneurial business enterprise, the agency's success is dependent on the effective implementation of a business model that focuses on offering the best product mix to maximize profits and transfers to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) in a responsive and responsible manner.

Florida voters, by a two-to-one margin, approved a constitutional amendment in 1986 authorizing the state to operate a lottery for the purpose of generating significant additional moneys for education.  Since the Lottery’s inception, the agency has contributed more than $18 billion to the EETF.  Today, Floridians continue to show their support by purchasing in excess of $4 billion in Lottery products per year.  For more information regarding the Florida Lottery, its games and its contributions to education, visit www.flalottery.com .

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[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:26am]

    

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