JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Lottery ticket sales could get a big boost, said State Senator Gwen Margolis, if her bill passes to allow the sale of lottery tickets online. But retailers are upset by the potential for lost revenue for their businesses.
"The more lottery tickets we sell, certainly the more money we have to spend in education because there is a mandate that it has to go to education," said Senator Margolis of Miami, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate. The bill would authorize the Lottery to create and administer a program that provide for the sale of lottery tickets online.
Margolis said when the jackpots are big, even more tickets will be sold, bought by those out of state, meaning more education scholarship money.
"We have given out tremendous amounts of scholarship money, and it has been worthwhile. This would mean even more funds. When the jackpots are large, it creates interest in the lottery outside our state."
"I think it is a great idea," said Brittany Streitler. "I think it is easier to commute for people who can't get to the store quick enough, especially the elderly if they want to try and go for the lottery."
Vera Johnson buys lottery tickets on occasion but she opposes the senator's plan.
"I think it is a bad idea, simply because people would be able to go more in debt than they are now by putting it on their debit or their credit card, so I don't think it is a good one."
Justin Hartley says he would be concerned with computer hackers.
"I just don't see how they could keep it from being tampered with online. That would be the only issue I would have with it. Online anything can happen."
Tami Gross and her family own five Welcome convenience stores on the First Coast. She heard about the plan for the first time on Thursday.
"Immediately no, opposed. Not a good idea."
Gross said it means less money for them. There's less of a chance of buying that big winning ticket at your local store if online sales are allowed.
"They are talking about working to help the small guy, but when they do something like this, it is going to hurt, going to hurt business."
Local retailers get 5 percent of the revenue of lottery ticket sales. Gross said some people come in only to buy lottery tickets, and often buy scratch off tickets as well. She claims those scratch off sales will suffer, as well as sales of other items.
"When people come in spontaneously, they'll buy a soda, buy some beer, whatever they want to buy, a candy bar. We lose those sales."
Illinois is the only state in the union to have online lottery sales. Florida and other states are looking at it. The Retail Industry Leaders Association conducted a nationwide poll of people in 43 states with a lottery and the District of Columbia. They say 78 percent of respondents said they were opposed to Internet lottery sales.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association announced earlier this week they are conducting their own study to see if the Internet lottery is having a positive or negative effect on Illinois residents and taxpaying businesses.
First Coast News