Florida Moves Toward Online Gambling
They say that every great journey begins with a single step, and this past week, Florida may have taken that first step. A bill filed the week prior to Thanksgiving by Florida state Senator Gwen Margolis aims to set up a program to allow Florida residents over the age of 18 purchase lottery tickets online.
If passed, Florida would be the eighth state in the nation to allow lottery ticket sales online. Currently, lottery tickets are sold at about 13,000 locations in Florida.
The reason? It’s fairly simple, really. “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 said.
The great thing about her line of thinking is that once legislators see how much online lottery ticket sales bring in, they’re more likely to push for online gambling. The interesting bit of this, of course, is the fact that Sheldon Adelson has been pushing to get his casinos in Florida. Recently, Adelson donated a hefty sum to a group pushing to block Amendment 2, the Right to Medical Marijuana, from passing. He was successful – it didn’t pass.
Once again, the citizens of Florida are divided. Those that support it are excited for it, but those that oppose it are scared that it’ll create a problem for gambling addicts.
To her credit, Senator Gwen Margolis is defending her bill, stating that gamblers “like to sit at the table. They like the social part of it.” That may be the case, but the facts and figures don’t lie – of the seven states that legalized online lottery ticket sales and the three states that legalized online gambling, none are reporting an issue with online gamblers.
Sheldon Adelson has yet to respond to the bill, but it’ll be interesting when he does. He’s strongly against online gambling for various reasons, but mostly because his land based casinos can’t offer strong promotions offered online, such as welcome bonuses or no deposit bonuses. He thought that he was getting in good with the legislators in Florida, so this move has to surprise him, especially because it came so soon after his contribution to prevent Amendment 2 from passing.
The proposal is brief – it’s barely even a page – and states that “[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.” It’s short, sweet, and to the point. If it takes off, Florida could be debating whether to legalize online gambling in 2015. Other details regarding the bill, such as payment methods, were not detailed in the brief proposal.