Warning about ‘warnings’: Florida Lottery fears grave losses from warning label bill

Officials from the Florida Lottery painted a near-apocalyptic picture of revenue loss — eventually as much as $300 million yearly, according to one estimate — if a bill mandating new warnings on lottery tickets becomes law.

They appeared at a Wednesday meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference, a working group of economic forecasters from the Legislature, Governor’s Office and elsewhere in government whose prognostications are used by lawmakers to write the state’s yearly spending plan.

The measure at issue (HB 629), passed during the 2019 Legislative Session, “amends current law by directing the Florida Lottery to contractually require vendors to place one of the following warnings prominently on the front of all lottery tickets: ‘WARNING: LOTTERY GAMES MAY BE ADDICTIVE’ or ‘PLAY RESPONSIBLY,’ ” according to a staff analysis.

Lottery officials predict a parade of horribles because of the warnings, including a massive loss of revenue.

In Florida, lottery proceeds go into the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which helps pay for public education, including Bright Futures scholarships. “The Florida Lottery has contributed more than $1 billion to education for each of the past 16 years,” its website says. That’s after roughly $6 billion a year in sales.

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