TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Lottery and education in the state go hand in hand, with the department contributing more than $28 billion to education trust funds since 1988. Lawmakers think they can get that number to up with a bill that would make it easier for consumers to buy a ticket.
The idea for automated lottery terminals comes from a state study where it has been noted for two years in a row that ticket automation could increase revenues.
The Florida Lottery is coming off a record-breaking month. More than $471 million worth of tickets were sold in October, and $118 million of that goes to a state education trust fund.
A bill that cleared its first committee last week would authorize automated sales of lottery tickets. The sponsor said it's a good way to increase revenues.
One lawmaker said if the idea was to make money for education, why not open up the sales online.
"If you have a big prize, you'll get a lot of people from out of state," Sen. Gwen Margolis said.
Her amendment was shot down under the idea that it might be seen as an expansion of gaming.
The idea for automated sales brings into play the state's gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe under the Seminole Compact. The Compact prohibits a potential automated lottery terminal from dispensing winnings or revealing winning numbers.
"We're going to actually take the specific language out of the Seminole contract and put it into this as definition," Sen. Garrett Richter said.
But there are reservations. Sen. Kelli Stargel is worried that more people will be using their credit cards in hopes of a big pay day.
"I just see it as making it more accessible, which I don't think is profitable," Stargel said. "I don't think we need to make it more accessible. I think responsible people who want to get a lottery ticket here and there need to purchase it at the gas pump. I don't think it's that big of deal to walk in to the store and purchase it."
The bill requires that if a person were using a credit card to buy the lottery tickets, $20 in additional items, like gas or groceries, must also be purchased.