A recently inked multi-year contract for ticket vending machines has been declared void by a Leon County Circuit Court judge who ruled that the Florida Lottery failed to secure legislative approval prior to the signing of the contract with IGT Global Solutions Corp. last year.
In what is the second legislative victory for House speaker Richard Corcoran (pictured), on Tuesday, Judge Karen Gievers said that Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie failed to comply with a requirement of Florida law that states that certain contracts have to be pre-approved by the Legislature prior to signing. Judge Gievers 15-page ruling said that in signing the contract, with IGT Global Solutions Corp., a subsidiary of London-based International Game Technology (IGT), and obligating the state to nearly $13 million more than was authorized by the Legislature, the agency overstepped its budgetary authority.
Judge Gievers declared the contract, which would run until 2028, “void and unenforceable,” which means the agency will have to reconfigure a new contract to provide the Florida Lottery with a selection of solutions and services including Powerball and other ticket games.
In a joint statement with Judiciary Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor and Rules Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami, Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said “Today’s decision is a victory for the taxpayer and the rule of law,” and, “It reinforces the idea that respecting the separation of powers is not an arcane idea or an out-of-date philosophy,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The Lottery Department is overseen by the office of Gov. Rick Scott, who in a statement issued after the ruling said he would be challenging Judge Gievers decision. “The Florida Lottery continues to make record contributions to our public schools, and today’s ruling jeopardizes billions of dollars for Florida students,” read Scott’s statement. “I strongly disagree with today’s decision, and we will appeal,” he said, according to the news agency.
Corcoran sued the Lottery agency after it was discovered by his budget staff that the agreement had been signed in an apparent attempt to circumvent the refusal by the Legislature to sign off on the state’s leasing additional full-service vending machines.
Signed in September, the contract changed the way in which the state pays for leasing ticket sales machines. Rather than paying the company a flat per machine fee of $500, it gave it a fixed percentage of each machine’s sales. Agreeing to the contract extension, testified the Lottery’s procurement director, Summer Silvestri, the agency was able to secure a lower percentage fee, which would save the state of Florida an estimated $18 million over the duration of the contract, according to the report.
However, IGT would have received a percentage of the sales of machines, tickets, and other services under the new deal, which would based on projected sales, increase the Lottery’s payment to IGT by what the House estimated would be $12.9 million in the upcoming budget year, as reported by the Times.