The debate over whether Florida should allow destination casinos is certainly one of the biggest in the state. Yet Gov. Rick Scott has remained mostly silent on the issue. That's not to say he doesn't have some form of gambling of the mind. To fund a $1 billion increase in the education budget, he's hoping to expand the Florida Lottery with an eye toward full-service lotto vending machines. Interestingly, the top lawmakers supporting the push to bring casinos to Florida wouldn't mind seeing the lotto go away.
Scott's only comment of any substance so far about gambling is his warning that the state budget shouldn't be balanced based on taxation revenue generated by the expansion of casinos in the state. Yet he hopes to increase the education budget based on stronger lotto sales.
According to the Florida Ledger, Scott has recommended that the state legislature increase the number of retailers selling Powerball tickets. He'd also like to see more lottery vending machines installed around Florida.
Those vending machines sell only scratch-off game tickets, but Scott has recommended that they also distribute lottery tickets. Under state law, those tickets can be sold only by a cashier.
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Scott's administration thinks those steps would lead to a $241 million increase in money available to fund education.
Perhaps the announcement isn't much of a view into Scott's thoughts on the possibility of destination casinos in South Florida, but it's worth noting that Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Republican who has filed the bill to allow destination casinos, has come out against expansion of the Florida Lottery.
"I think it's important that we harness and we rein in that type of gaming that is not necessarily productive for the state of Florida, productive for the people, and are more, I think, addictive in terms of the lottery and slots are more addictive according to the industry than some of the other games out there," Bogdanoff told the Sunshine State News Service in November when announcing her plan to eliminate the Department of Lottery and replace it with a gaming commission. "So, I think that's one of the things we'll be looking at."