TALLAHASSEE, Florida — The Florida Lottery is considering selling lottery tickets online or alongside ATMs to combat relatively flat sales of some of the more well-known games.
Lottery officials have asked companies seeking a contract worth at least $300 million to prove that they can sell tickets on the Internet or at ATMs and gas pumps. The lottery hasn't officially announced that they are considering those changes.
Gov. Rick Scott is staunchly opposed to online sales. Scott last year wrote a letter to Congress asking them to make it clear federal law bans online lottery ticket sales despite a 2011 legal opinion from federal authorities. The U.S. Department of Justice said then that states could take online bets so long as they didn't involve sporting events.
The Republican governor said in the letter he was concerned about Internet gambling being "unleashed on the states."
"Allowing Internet gaming to invade the homes of every American family, and be piped into our dens, our living rooms, our workplaces, and even our kids' bedrooms and dorm rooms is a major decision," he wrote.
Bid documents released earlier this year by the Department of Lottery said the agency wants vendors to show they could sell lottery tickets on the Internet.
Lottery spokeswoman Connie Barnes said that "there are no plans at this time" to sell lottery tickets through the Internet. Barnes said the department "chose to include language" in the bid documents to allow for Florida to consider "the full spectrum of available technology being utilized in other states that sell lottery products."
While a handful of states have moved ahead with Internet gambling, similar proposals have gone nowhere in the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature. State officials are already grappling with how to regulate other gambling in the state, including what should be allowed in casinos run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
State Sen. Rob Bradley, the north Florida Republican deeply involved in gambling legislation, said he's not a "fan of the government being in the gaming industry." Bradley, the chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, said he would oppose any effort to sell lottery tickets online or allow the creation of new terminals at gas pumps or at ATMs.
The nearly 30-year old Florida Lottery is at a critical juncture with the ticketed games that include Powerball, Lotto and Mega Millions. While scratch-off ticket sales have continued to surge, the forecasts are relatively flat for the other types of lottery games.
The state's 10-year $333 million contract with Gtech to operate the machines that sell Powerball and other similar games was scheduled to expire in September. But the agency signed an emergency extension last month to keep it intact until March 2017 or until when a new company is selected.
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