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House budget language would undermine Florida Lottery contract

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Pending an appeal of a court order blocking a $700 million Florida Lottery contract, proviso language in the proposed House budget would appear to block officials from attempting to enforce its terms.

The language within the budget bill, HB 5100 (see page 329) pertains to a $26.6 million appropriation to operate game terminals. It would forbid officials from paying a vendor to “deploy, utilize, or lease” instant-ticket or full-service vending machines

The document would provide $5 million “only to pay to lease up to a maximum total of 1,500 instant ticket vending machines at a per-machine, per-month rate that must be specified in express terms in a vendor contract.”

A separate $2.9 million line authorizes leasing no more than 500 full-service machines, under a written contract with a vendor.

The disputed contract would boost the number of full-service vending machines to 5,000.

On March 7, a Leon County Judge Karen Gievers invalidated the Lottery’s contract with International Game Technology for new equipment, agreeing with House Speaker Richard Corcoran that the agency lacked budget authority to make the deal in 2016.

The multiple-year contract involved new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. The lottery sold more than $6.2 billion in tickets in 2016, according to records.

Gov. Rick Scott has supported the position of the lottery, which filed an appeal on March 29.

The contract in question would provide new retailer terminals, in-store signage, self-service lottery vending machines, self-service ticket checkers and an upgraded communications network.

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