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TRENTON, N.J. -- The 6,100 New Jersey businesses that profit from the sale of lottery tickets may face competition that has no street address if the state decides to allow gamblers to purchase those tickets online, according to a MyCentralJersey.com report.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) proposed the legislation, which would make the state the first to sell lottery tickets online. Some other states have other forms of online lottery programs, such as New York's subscription program. Quijano said the change could make lottery players out of people who would otherwise be too busy to purchase tickets in person, expanding the $2.6 billion lottery ticket market.
However, others claim that online lottery ticket sales would harm the small businesses that sell them now. Although lottery agents make 5-percent commissions on ticket sales, the real profits come from sales of food, drinks and other items that lottery customers purchase when they buy their tickets, according to Kashmir Gill, who operates 25 convenience stores and gas stations in New Jersey.
"If these people play the lottery at home, they won't come to our stores. A high percentage of lottery players buy other things and those sales will go away if tickets can be purchased online," said Gill.
Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association, echoed Gill's concerns, adding that c-stores are already suffering from diminishing profit margins on other products.
"Our organization opposes this very strenuously," said Risalvato. "The state should not be in competition with private industry."
However, Justin Braz, Quijano's chief of staff, stated that the bill has been amended to redistribute up to 5 percent of online lottery ticket sales to lottery agents.
"There's no exact formula on how to redistribute that revenue, but that was done after (Quijano) heard the concerns," Braz said. "Everybody is looking for ways the state can raise revenue and the intent is to expand the lottery to a new demographic. The amendment provides a mechanism of compensation if there is an impact."
The proposal cleared an Assembly panel in December and is now in the Appropriations Committee.