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Florida Could Start Selling Lottery Tickets Online

Nov 29, 2014 - by Monica Erdei
Florida Lottery

Florida Lottery goes online

Florida Senator Gwen Margolis wants to allow lottery fans living in the Sunshine State to purchase their tickets online.While gambling bonuses are still a rarity in the US, offering lottery tickets via the internet is nothing new. Seven US states already sell tickets on their websites and Florida could soon join their ranks, if a bill proposed by State Senator Gwen Margolis passes.

However, the new bill has few details on how the web service would work. New York residents can buy tickets using credit cards; players living in Georgia use a prepaid lottery card system; Illinois limits online purchases to $150 a day and allows winnings to be deposited into an online account. In Florida’s case, these details haven’t been clarified yet.

In support of her proposal, Margolis argued that internet sales would help increase revenue for the lottery, which is among the state’s biggest fundraisers. On the other hand, many fear that stores will take a financial blow if players will be able to conveniently purchase tickets from the comfort of their own homes.

United Press International: Florida Lottery could sell tickets online if bill passes

Last week, Florida State Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Coconut Grove, introduced a bill proposing that the Sunshine State allow players to purchase lottery tickets online. If the bill is approved, Florida will become the eighth state to legalize online ticket sales.

“[The lottery is] one of the biggest fundraisers we have,” Margolis said. According to the latest gambling news, the Senator believes that legalizing online ticket sales would be much more beneficial for the state than building a casino resort in South Florida. This is a project Las Vegas Sands Corp. has been lobbying for over the past months.

“This way, anybody who wants to buy them can buy them. Expand that instead of having big problems with major gaming in the community,” she affirmed.

Opponents of the bill fear that allowing people to purchase tickets online would create more problems for gambling addicts. Brian Kongsvik, the helpline director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, says being able to use a line of credit would cause people to lose that sense of pulling money out of their pockets. But Margolis argued that gamblers “like to sit at the table” and enjoy “the social part of it”.

All seven states offering online lottery tickets have their own payment mechanisms. The bill introduced by Margolis doesn’t mention which method would be used in Florida. Bill SB 120 is a one-page proposal stating:

“[The Lottery] shall have the authority to create a program that allows a person who is 18 years of age or older to make an online purchase of a Florida lottery ticket. The department may adopt rules to administer the program.”

Sun Sentinel: Florida Lottery may go online

Florida legislators could make playing the lottery a lot easier if they approve a bill introduced by state Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Coconut Grove, and allow the lottery to sell tickets online. At present, tickets can only be bought at brick-and-mortar outlets and stores.

The Florida Lottery was founded in 1988, when voters passed a constitutional amendment that authorized the organization two years before. Over the years, lottery sales helped bring in $27 billion for education. Most of that profit was put in a trust fund to be divided up by the state legislature.

The proposal has some people worried about the harmful effects it might have on gambling addicts, but Margolis doesn’t think the online lottery would have a negative impact. Problem gamblers “like to sit at the table,” she said.

Brian Kongsvik, the helpline director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling explained: “With any online gambling, and the potential to use a line of credit, it loses that physical pulling money out of pocket.”

When it comes to legalizing gambling, the organization is neutral. However, Kongsvik fears that making lottery tickets that easily accessible could result in more people needing the help of his organization.

“In theory, there is no doubt about it that some individuals that have a gambling problem, or the potential to develop one, could use credit lines to gamble more than they normally would,” he explained.

Florida Courier: Florida Lottery sales hit record-setting $5.3 billion

As Florida residents become more and more obsessed with scratch cards and lottery tickets, the state lottery reported it had reached record sales of $5.3 billion earlier in July. While part of that profit goes to the state budget and educational programs, the organization spends between $28 million and $30 million on advertising every year.

Even before the Powerball or Mega Millions rollover jackpot spurred sales, the Florida Lottery posted $5.36 billion at its last sales report. The year before that, it was just over $5 billion. About 60% of the money goes to winners, leaving $1.49 billion for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.

The increased revenues were generated by a growth in ticket sales. Scratch-off tickets are available in more than 13,000 locations across the state, with prices ranging from $1 to $25. Over the past year, sales went up by 12.7%. The $25 ticket is the most popular one, accounting for $13 million in weekly sales. Powerball sold $469 million, Mega Millions made $167 million and Lotto reached $349 million.

Lottery Deputy Secretary of Sales Tom Delacenserie said: “If we have a $600 million jackpot or $550 million jackpot, we just get out of the way and the sales take off. Last year we didn’t get up that high.”

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