Good news and bad news aren’t always black and white.
Earlier this year, New Jersey lawmakers proposed a bill to legalize online lottery sales. While the move is a good one for lottery players (they can buy a ticket from their phone) and the New Jersey Lottery (sales will likely rise), it would not be good for the network of convenience stores and gas stations that rely on lottery sales for vital income.
In light of that downside, Sen. Joseph Cryan has crafted a bill that would block the legalization of online lottery sales.
Specifics of S4150 blocking legal online lottery sales in New Jersey
The text of Cryan’s bill is straightforward; just one page of official language and background. Here’s the significant part of S4150:
“On September 19, 2022, a rule proposal was published to …. allow the Division of State Lottery to directly sell tickets to consumers in New Jersey through its website and mobile applications. The proposal has been adopted and internet sales by the State Lottery Commission are scheduled to begin in the fall of 2024.
This bill prohibits the State Lottery Commission, any entity of the State Lottery Commission, or any entity contracted by the State Lottery Commission from directly selling lottery tickets via the Internet.”
Online lottery sales ban would protect small businesses
Cryan’s bill makes one exception: registered courier services such as Jackpocket.com that sell lottery tickets online. The bill is in defense of gas stations and convenience stores that depend on lottery ticket sales.
According to the New Jersey Lottery website, each retailer earns 5% on every ticket they sell. They also make cash commissions ranging from 1.25% to 2.5% on prizes up to $30,000.
Retailers can earn even bigger cash commissions on certain games:
- $30,000 bonus for Cash4Life, Mega Millions, and Powerball jackpot tickets (5 out of 5 numbers right plus the bonus ball) sold
- $10,000 bonus for 5 out of 5 right in Cash4Life, Mega Millions (with Megaplier), and Powerball
- $2,000 bonus for 5 out of 5 right on Mega Millions (no Megaplier)
With so much revenue at stake businesses are concerned that launching online lottery sales would cause considerable damage to their bottom line. Not to mention other purchases customers make when they come in to buy a ticket.
As PlayUSA noted in August, the New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association, a group that represents businesses directly affected by potential online lottery sales, said online sales would “improve the New Jersey Lottery’s bottom line, but it may have the opposite effect on local business that sell lottery tickets.”
For now, we’ll have to see what happens with Cryan’s new bill. It will have to clear any relevant committees in the Senate and pass a Senate vote.
Then it needs to pass a House vote before getting the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy, who has the right to veto the bill.
Where can you buy New Jersey Lottery tickets?
Because online sales have not gone live (and may not go live anytime soon), those in New Jersey can buy lottery tickets one of two ways:
- Through authorized lottery retailers
- Via third-party lottery site Jackpocket.com