Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Lottery pressing to expand its scratchoff vending machines

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Lottery hopes to raise more revenue from an extra 250 scratchoff ticket vending machines that are included in budget proposals being finalized in the Legislature.

The lottery expects the new machines to more than pay their nearly $1 million cost and also return $9.7 million to a fund that goes toward education.

Last year, the lottery began renting 1,000 vending machines — generating $20 million since they were rolled out in the fall.

"The first 1,000 have more than outperformed anyone's expectations," said Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno.

Lottery officials credit the vending machines, along with the rollout of the multistate Powerball game, for stanching losses during the recession. The lottery is projected to send $1.2 billion to education this year, or about $124 million less than last year. Scratchoff tickets are the only type of game to exceed sales projections by state economists.

The vending machines allow people buy tickets themselves instead of from a clerk. They have a kill switch letting the manager shut them off if some a juvenile tries to buy tickets.

The lottery leases the machines from GTECH Corp., a West Greenwich, R.I., company represented by high-powered lobbyist and Republican fundraiser Brian Ballard.

Besides the initial group of new vending machines, the lottery also could ask for another 750 if it signs an agreement with a chain such as Walmart or Walgreens. To get those machines, the lottery would have to prove to state economists that they generate more education money.

DiBenigno said there is a "slow ramp up" of new machines, but Florida could potentially add many more. He noted that Pennsylvania, with about 5 million fewer residents than Florida, has 4,000 machines.

"We don't think we're anywhere near the point of diminishing returns," DiBenigno said.

Calling the machines "gambling boxes," Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, initially rejected them from the lottery budget. He and other conservatives decry the state's newfound push for gambling and the social ills it brings.

Earlier this month, lawmakers approved a $1.5 billion gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe. In exchange for annual payments to the state, the agreement gives the tribe the exclusive right to operate blackjack and slot machines at its casinos.

Other lawmakers point to the revenue that gambling brings during an austere budget year. Supporters say that the machines don't necessarily increase the amount of tickets the lottery produces, they only make it more convenient for buyers.

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, wants to allow the lottery to explore "electronic scratchoff tickets," a video version of the paper tickets.

"It's just a different form of selling tickets and saving trees," he said. "This would be another tool for the lottery to essentially look to the future."

Lawmakers must be careful not to encroach on the Seminole compact. One provision allows the lottery vending machines. Machines that emulate slot machines would reduce the money the Seminoles pay the state. Jones said he structured his proposal so it wouldn't infringe on the agreement.

Jones' bill has not yet cleared the Senate, and its fate is uncertain. Rep. Bill Galvano, the lead negotiator on the Seminole compact, said he is unlikely to push any more gambling bills the rest of session.

Florida Lottery pressing to expand its scratchoff vending machines 04/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 23, 2010 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  2. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears


    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  4. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse


    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …

  5. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker


    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.