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Lottery Rolls Out Instant Ticketing Vending Machines

Hoping to gin up more interest in Florida’s lottery program, state officials this week will begin rolling out 1,000 instant ticket machines to high volume retailers in Tampa and Fort Myers.

Approved by lawmakers earlier this year, the push is expected to boost Lottery net earnings by $3.4 million a year as the agency attempts to woo additional players to instant ticket vending machines (called ITVMs) while reducing the time spent on instant game ticket transactions at retailers around the state.

“For years, Florida Lottery Scratch-Off games have been a favorite among many of our players,” said Florida Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno. “The ITVMs in our state will serve as an additional tool for the Florida Lottery to increase sales and contributions to education, while adding customer convenience.”

Nestled in the state's $66.5 billion spending plan signed into law by Gov. Charlie Crist, is $3.9 million to roll out 1,000 self-service vending machines at existing Lottery retailers to supply customers. The state has commitments from five of the state's largest supermarket chains including Publix and Winn Dixie. Overall 45 retailers have expressed interest.

The department plans to distribute the machines at the rate of up to 125 a week. Installation will be complete by early November. The state will lease the machines from Rhode Island-based GTech Corp for $329 a month each. GTech is the state’s online vendor.

In May, subsidiary GTech Printing Corp opened a new facility in Lakeland capable of printing more than 1 billion scratch-off tickets a year. The Lakeland site joins an older printing facility in nearby Plant City.

A 2007 pilot project conducted in Florida found store sales jumped 33 percent when machines were added. Results of the three-month pilot mirrored that of three states where terminals were in place for a full year. In those states, sales increased between 15 percent and 36 percent.

Meeting to determine its revenue impact earlier this year, a panel of economists predicted state coffers would be enriched by at least $3.4 million, based on a 15 percent increase in sales. If sales increase 36 percent, the state's annual take would be $13.9 million.

The machines work much like a soda vending machines. Customers insert money and select from a menu of instant games. The machines can be remotely deactivated, which in theory will allow merchants to prevent minors from buying tickets. Winning tickets would be redeemed in person at existing service counters.

Along with enticing reluctant players, agency officials hope the new games will lure skeptical retailers into the pool of Lottery vendors. Some businesses have balked at personnel costs associated with selling and processing Lottery tickets, which could be less if customers buy them from a machine.

If the machines become a hit, officials say they are discussing the possibility of expanding sales to other major retailers, including Wal-Mart, which has so far chosen not to be a member of the state's network of more than 13,500 Lottery retailers.

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