As online gambling continues to expand in the United States, one Florida man wants to pump the breaks a little bit. Florida State Senator Will Robinson has filed House Bill 629, which would prohibit the sale of online lottery tickets in the Sunshine State.
The bill is due to be discussed in the Gaming Control Subcommittee on February 20, and would have the impact of “prohibiting the use of personal electronic devices to play, store, redeem, sell, or purchase lottery tickets or games,” if passed.
Florida Politics’ Jacob Ongles reports Senator Robinson plainly feels online lottery retailers are scamming the public. “These fraudulent websites are, in my view, illegally advertising when they are not related to the lottery system at all,” Robinson said.
The idea came to Robinson after an incident in early 2018, when a woman bought a lottery ticket from the online retailer TheLotter.com and won a $30 million jackpot. That site would buy lottery tickets from a brick and mortar retailer and scan them to be sold online for a marked up price. When the woman showed up to claim her jackpot, it caused a bunch of confusion for state officials who’d never heard of the website.
Robinson points out that leaving any gray area for these websites to operate in can muddy the waters for Floridians. The lottery is strictly regulated by the state, and this circumvents many of their regulations, while charging unfair prices for the convenience. “The lottery is significantly regulated,” he said, “and that’s for a purpose.”
Scams are an ongoing problem for the Florida state lottery. It’s gotten to a point where they have to maintain a page on their website to educate consumers on tell-tale signs of lottery scams.
TheLotter.com was, as it turns out, trying to offer as legitimate a service as possible, and the woman was able to claim her $30 million prize; however, it wouldn’t take much for another website to offer bogus tickets, and Robinson is trying to prevent that outcome.
This comes as Florida Senate President Bill Galvano is seeking to expand sports betting in the state. Lawmakers will likely want to see that bill through, as they wouldn’t want to fall behind the gambling industry in the rest of the country. They may want to consider Robinson’s bill closely as well, to avoid a rush of “winning tickets” at their lottery offices.