Lottery Contract Fight Put on Hold

Amid settlement talks, a stay has been issued in the state House’s challenge to the legality of a ticket-sales contract signed last year by the Florida Lottery.

The 1st District Court of Appeal posted on its website that a joint motion for a stay was granted Thursday as the two sides continued to negotiate amid leadership turnover at the lottery.

The website said the stay is pending a further order from the court.

“If the case has not been dismissed in the interim, the parties shall file a status report no later than August 31, 2017, advising the court of the need for any further proceedings,” the court posted on its website.

The governor’s office on Monday deferred to a July 7 joint motion by attorneys for the House and the lottery requesting an extension to file briefs that were due that day.

“The parties are now engaged in good faith negotiations in an attempt to resolve this dispute, and believe that the likelihood of achieving a satisfactory resolution will be enhanced if they do not have to solidify their positions by filing briefs during negotiations,” the two-page joint motion said.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The dispute focuses on a long-term contract between the lottery and IGT Global Solutions Corp. Under the deal, IGT gets a slice of the sales of tickets, machines and other services.

In the past, the lottery paid a fixed amount to essentially lease each lottery machine.

When the suit was filed, the contract was estimated to be worth $12.9 million for the budget year that began July 1.

The contract, to run until 2028 with an option to 2031, was signed in September by former lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie.

Delacenserie resigned in May for a job as the leader of the Kentucky Lottery Corporation. He was replaced at the Florida Lottery by Jim Poppell, who had been chief of staff at the Department of Economic Opportunity. Poppell’s first official day with the Florida Lottery was July 10.

Corcoran, R- Land O’ Lakes, argued that the contract is illegal because it would spend more money on ticket sales than the Legislature previously approved for that purpose. The lottery countered that the contract specifically says IGT will only get its full payments if the Legislature approves the spending.

The lottery had argued in court that the new arrangement was aimed at trying to maximize the profits of the agency, which helps fund state education programs.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled in Corcoran’s favor March 7, agreeing that the contract didn’t meet the requirements of state law.

“As a result, the lottery secretary lacked the legal authority to enter into the IGT contract, which must therefore be found to be void and unenforceable,” Gievers wrote.

The governor’s office has contended the ruling could endanger funding for education.

“The Florida Lottery continues to make record contributions to our public schools and today’s ruling jeopardizes billions of dollars for Florida students,” Scott said in a release disagreeing with the ruling by Gievers.

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