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TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey convenience stores were ordered by Gov. John Corzine to stop the sale of state lottery tickets Saturday, as a result of week long discussions ending in disagreements over the state budget reported The Star-Ledger.
The freeze in lotto sales is one step in many to close down "non-essential state operations." Since the state had failed to agree on a budget by midnight Saturday, it is not allowed to spend money according to its constitution, the report stated.
"It gives me no joy, no satisfaction, no sense of empowerment to do what I'm forced to do here," Gov. Corzine said at a press conference Sunday. "And we will do everything we can to bring this to a short conclusion."
The budget hinged on an increase in state sales tax, from 6 percent to 7 percent to fill a billion dollar budget gap.
Until a budget is adopted, the lottery will be closed. Senate President Richard Codey said that "no real progress" had been made as of Sunday. This marks the fourth time in five years that the legislature has failed to adopt a budget before the deadline, and although a shut down has been discussed prior, this is the first time it has been carried out because a budget was not agreed upon by July 2, according to The Star-Ledger.
Assembly speaker Joseph Roberts told The Star-Ledger, "We believe it is essential for that process to be fast-tracked and for the budget committee to work around the clock. We're in crisis mode now, and I think we need to redouble our efforts."
Despite a speedy resolution, the state will lose considerable money from the closure of the lottery alone. The Star-Ledger reported that players spent $6 million a day on tickets last year, which generated $2.2 million per day in revenue. For fiscal 2005, state revenue totaled $2.3 billion, according to the lottery's Web site.
Along with the state, convenience stores will lose money from the stop in sales. Retailers of the state lottery get a 5 percent commission on the sale. $52 million was paid to vendors in 2005 according to the state lottery's Web site.
The last tickets sold in the state were just before 8 p.m. on Saturday. For those tickets already sold, the drawings will continue.