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New Legislation Good For New Jersey Lottery, Bad For Retailers

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New Jersey lawmakers are in the midst of one of the largest reorganization efforts to the gaming industry in decades. The legislators have already tackled online gambling in the form of casinos, and now they appear set to rework the lottery system.

Earlier this month, lawmakers approved legislation that would make New Jersey the first state to regulate Internet gambling. Online poker, slots, craps, roulette, blackjack, and other games would all be legalized if Governor Chris Christie signs the legislation.

One area that was not addressed was online gambling on the lottery. In December a bill passed the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee that would allow gamblers to buy tickets directly from the lottery online. That would be troublesome for retailers throughout the state.

"If I had the option to buy my lottery tickets online, I probably would do that," said Maurice Burns. "Most of the time, I end up buying other items at the store that I don't need when I go out to buy my lottery tickets, so this would save me a lot of money."

Therein lies the problem for retailers. many of these convenient stores use the lottery as a way to get customers into the store, where they then buy other goods. With the ability to buy online, gamblers may spend millions of less dollars a year at stores where lottery tickets are sold.

Lawmakers have heard the concerns of the retail outlets, but the majority believe that allowing online lottery sales would not affect business at the retail stores. Scratch-off tickets could not be purchased online under the proposed bill, so gamblers would still at least have to go to the retailer for the scratch offs.

The new legislation would be convenient for gamblers during the winter months. Snow storms have kept many Northeastern residents indoors for the past couple of months, and the online sales of the lottery tickets would mean the state lottery would not lose revenue on inclement weather days.

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