Florida Governor Discusses State Lottery Privatization


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Florida Governor Charlie Christ, in his quest to fill a $1.1 billion dollar budget deficit, is considering the privatization of the state-managed lottery. The idea is turn over operation of the lottery to licensed private vendors in exchange for higher net revenues. In it’s current state, the Florida Lottery is a less-than-efficient operation, according to many lawmakers in Tallahassee. The cost of operating the lottery has become greater than the benefit.

The privatization of state-run lottery programs has never occurred in the United States. If the proposal is to happen, the State of Florida would turn over all operational management to a private company(s). In return, the government would receive a monthly check without the overhead of actually managing the program, or they could opt for an initial buyout plan and completely separate althogethor.

Lottery programs were created nationwide in the 80’s and 90’s as a way to generate revenue for the public school systems, and in some cases, for roads and highways. The Florida Lottery took in over $4 billion in total sales and only generated $1.2 billion for education in 2006.

The idea of privatization is not a new one, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger proposed a similar privatization plan with the failing California Lottery System. His plan was formally introduced back on May 11th at a conference in Sacramento.

Charlie Crist has also been negotiating with the Seminole Tribe on an agreement to allow blackjack, roulette, and baccarat at the tribe’s seven Florida casinos. The deal could produce between $50 million and $500 million anually in state revenues. The extra money is needed or the state could be forced to end many long-running social programs and eldery benefit deals.

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