TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Lottery used its 25th anniversary to unveil a new logo on Monday, aiming to boost the $4.8 billion-a-year gaming system that is a major funding source for Florida's schools.
Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell said the rebranding effort — which includes a more energetic looking flamingo logo — is targeted at keeping the online and scratch-off ticket games "innovative and fresh."
But it is also about money.
The Lottery provides more than $1.3 billion a year for the education budget. Since the first ticket sales in 1988 — which followed voter approval of the lottery in 1986 — the games have generated $24 billion for education, including $3.6 billion for state colleges and universities.
The lottery funds Florida's popular Bright Futures scholarship program, which pays a portion of the tuition for students attending state universities and colleges if they meet certain academic standards. O'Connell said some 600,000 students have used Bright Futures since the program began in 1997.
In addition to the education benefits, the lottery has also paid out $37.7 billion in prize money to game players, creating some 1,200 millionaires.
But like other "mature" lotteries, the Florida Lottery is continually challenged by trying to increase interest in the games in effort to keep current players and attract new ones, who in return, can generate more money for the education system.
In November, state economists projected Florida will sell $4.8 billion in lottery tickets this budget year, a 7.7 percent increase.
But in the longer term, ticket sales will remain relatively flat, according to the economists' estimate. Sales will rise by less than 1 percent in the next two budget years and climb only to 1.5 percent in the 2015-16 budget year.
That means the lottery's contribution to the education budget will only grow slightly, rising from an estimated $1.35 billion this year to $1.4 billion in 2015-16.
Lottery officials have increased play by bringing in new games. One of the most successful examples was Florida's decision to join the multi-state Powerball game, which can generate jackpots in excess of $100 million and helped boost Florida sales by 11 percent in the 2011-12 budget year.
On Monday, the Florida Lottery, along with Secretary of State Ken Detzner, unveiled a new scratch-off ticket game — the "Florida Treasure Hunt" — that links the contest with Florida's celebration this year of the 500th anniversary of the Europeans' first encounter with the state.
The $3 tickets provide a chance to instantly win a $50,000 prize, while non-winning tickets can also be entered for other prizes, ranging from a new Mazda CX-5 to vacation getaways.
The Lottery will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its first ticket sale this Saturday.
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Thanks to Original Bey for the tip.