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Crist open to possible sale of Florida Lottery
The governor says, "It's important to continue to be innovative" in facing the financial crisis.
By STEVE BOUSQUET, Tallahassee Bureau Chief
Published September 5, 2007
TALLAHASSEE - Want to buy a lottery?
Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Crist floated the idea of selling a highly profitable state asset, the Florida Lottery, to private investors as a way to ease the state's financial pinch, estimated at $2.5-billion over two years.
Crist pegged the lottery's market value as worth "billions and billions" of dollars and said the idea is worth exploring if a potential buyer would give the state a big upfront payment.
Meeting with student government leaders from state universities, Crist also raised the notion of selling state roads to private entities or letting them build roads.
"I don't know if it's good or bad at this point," Crist said. "But I think it's important to continue to be innovative."
The Florida Lottery, approved by voters in 1986, had sales of $4-billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Of that total, a spokeswoman said, about $1.26-billion was earmarked for education, including Bright Futures scholarships for college students.
At least a dozen states - including California, Texas and Illinois - have considered spinning off lotteries.
"It's something other states have looked at and chosen not to do," said Brian Ballard, a lobbyist for GTech, the Rhode Island company that in 2005 won a contract for up to 10 years to design and run the lottery's online games.