Wednesday, August 15, 2018
News Roundup

Florida Lottery plans major expansion under huge new deal

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Lottery — which just registered more than $6 billion in annual sales — is in line for a large expansion due to a new contract that state officials signed this month.

Lottery officials, who report to Gov. Rick Scott, signed a 13-year contract worth more than $700 million with IGT Global Solutions covering major aspects of the lottery, including the systems used to sell tickets for games such as Powerball and Mega Millions.

The contract is substantially larger than the existing one, even though sales for the so-called online games such as Powerball have remained steady for the last several years.

One big change in the contract is a plan to nearly triple the number of automated ticket machines capable of selling both scratchoff tickets and those for online games such as Powerball. This would increase the number of machines statewide from 2,000 to 5,500. The contract also calls for a new smartphone application that will let players check their tickets and allow them to enter second chance sweepstakes.

Lottery officials say the cost is tied to increased sales projections and that the amount paid to IGT will go down if there is a downturn in sales.

They also have estimated that the new contract will bring in more revenue. Nearly $1.7 billion in lottery profits are being used this year to pay for education expenses, including Bright Futures college scholarship.

But state Sen. Rob Bradley questioned the plans by lottery officials to expand their gambling operations. He noted that this past year legislators considered bills that would have limited some of the tickets they can sell.

IGT, which beat out one other company for the contract, is represented by some high-powered lobbyists including Bill Rubin, a long-time friend of Scott, and Brian Ballard, a Republican fundraiser and lobbyist who also currently serves as Florida finance chairman for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

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