House panel backs warning labels for Florida Lottery tickets

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Despite a gubernatorial veto of a similar bill last year, state lawmakers again are trying to slap a warning label on state Lottery tickets.

In an 8-3 vote, the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday endorsed a bill (HB 991) that would require a “PLAY RESPONSIBLY” warning on the front of Lottery tickets.

Rep. Will Robinson, the Bradenton Republican who is sponsoring the legislation, said the warning must cover at least 5 percent of the ticket’s surface. The warning, which would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, must also be used in television, Internet, and print advertising by the Lottery.

Last year’s bill – which Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed in June – called for the warning label to cover at least 10 percent of the ticket’s surface and included the optional wording of “WARNING: LOTTERY GAMES MAY BE ADDICTIVE.”

Robinson noted the “PLAY RESPONSIBLY” slogan is already widely used by the Lottery.

The Lottery opposed the earlier legislation, arguing that it would would significantly dampen ticket sales, which totaled more than $7 billion last year. Proceeds from the Lottery fund state education programs, including the popular Bright Futures scholarships for university and college students.

A staff analysis of the legislation shows the Lottery projects a $117 million revenue loss from the new warning label. The loss is tied to the Lottery having to take 1,125 terminals and 208 vending machines off line in order to place warning labels on them. But House aides believe the warning can be implemented without having to change those machines, the analysis shows.

DeSantis argued last year’s bill would have hindered the Lottery’s ability to develop innovative games, hurt its relationship with retailers who sell the tickets, and had “the potential to impact revenues available for educational enhancement.”

The bill next moves to the Commerce Committee. A similar bill (SB 1318) has yet to be heard in the Senate.

Here is a Florida Phoenix report on last year’s legislation.