Rick Scott hit the nail on the head last week when he vetoed House Bill 937, a glaring piece of hypocrisy that would have forced already highly regulated lottery tickets and promotional material to display problem-gambling warnings.
This from a Legislature up to its eyeballs in members happy to talk about their fantasy sports habits.
From a Senate leadership that tried two years in a row to expand gambling by allowing parimutels to kill horse and dog racing in favor of slots-only venues in eight Florida counties.
What’s next, warning labels on Budweiser and Jim Beam? On fast-food french fries? On cell phones, razor blades, .38 specials? Heck, I’d like a warning label o6n my house — it was just struck with lightning for the second time.
Look around. There’s no end of danger in an acquisitive free society.
John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, was pretty ticked at the governor for his HB 937 veto. “The Florida Lottery has exploded from a once-a-week drawing, as promised to voters in 1986, to a major gambling enterprise featuring 11 weekly drawings and 82 different scratch-off games that can cost up to $25 to play …” he said in a written statement.
But demands of the times change. Over the years The Florida Lottery used focus groups to find out what consumers — ordinary Floridians, not the “low-end communities,” as Sowinski claims — wanted. And they wanted different products. They wanted better than a weekly drawing and a dollar scratch-off ticket. I participated in one of those focus groups in the early 1990s myself.
With his veto, the governor was less concerned with the hypocrisy of nanny-state morality than I am. What turned him was the added regulatory rigmarole for the Florida Lottery and the outlets that sell tickets.
Having flown through the state House with 111 votes to 3, the bill was more closely scrutinized in the Senate, but still passed with 23 votes to 15.
Scott’s decision to veto the bill rested on his belief that it was “duplicative in nature,” arguing that lottery games in Florida are already required to provide messages similar to this.
“This bill imposes burdensome regulations on the Lottery and its retail partners, and many of the notice provisions are duplicative of current Lottery initiations,” Scott said in his veto of the bill.
Too many governors in this country, not blessed with a thought for the bigger picture, are nanny-staters. Republican governors would have groaned a little, maybe — but they would have signed the bill. The Democrats would have looked to it for absolution.
Enough is enough, is all the governor was saying. Let’s help the businesses that help Florida, is all he was saying. And I truly thank Gov. Scott for it.
Reach Nancy Smith at [email protected] or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith