Eleven stores are being investigated for criminal activity regarding their lottery operations, and have temporarily lost their right to sell tickets, Florida Lottery officials said Thursday.
Lottery employees have removed equipment and turned off game terminals at each store.
None of the stores is in Broward or Palm Beach county. La Rampa Supermarket, 2925 NW 27th Ave., is the only store in Miami-Dade under investigation.
"The contract suspension of these retailers is temporary while the Florida Lottery continues its investigation," a Florida Lottery news release read. "If the investigation findings show that a crime has taken place, the Florida Lottery will terminate the retailer's contract, and owners or employees of the stores could face criminal charges." Lottery officials declined further comment.
Seven of the stores are in the Tampa Bay area, and were the subject of an investigation by Naples TV station WFTS. The station reported that of the top 10 scratch-off winners in the Tampa area, nine were store owners. One part owner of seven stores cashed about half of the scratch-offs worth $1,000 or more at those venues.
Lottery officials said they will publicize retailer suspensions through press releases and at FloridaLottery.com.
"These actions are part of the Lottery's ongoing effort to heighten awareness of what we do as an organization to combat illegal activity," the release said. "The Florida Lottery Division of Security and the Lottery's Inspector General will continue the investigation of these retailers, as part of our Retailer Integrity Program."
Last month, three Pompano Beach stores lost their lottery sales licenses. An investigation is ongoing.
Florida has more than 13,000 lottery sales venues. Stores get 5 percent of their total ticket sales, plus bonuses for selling winning tickets. About 58 percent of their business comes from scratch-offs. The remainder comes from Powerball, Florida Lotto, Mega Millions, Mega Money, Cash 3, Play 4 and Fantasy 5.
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