Online lottery in New Jersey will be expanding next year, with direct digital sales of certain games scheduled to begin in fall 2024.
While internet lottery in the Garden State is not a novel concept, the decision by New Jersey Lottery officials to allow direct ticket purchases from a state-run website and app is drawing criticism from small business owners and a handful of lawmakers.
Online sales for draw-based games such as Pick 6 and Mega Millions will start in 2024. The New Jersey State Lottery Commission approved the changes during its Aug. 17 public meeting.
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James Carey, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery, told state media outlets that the ruling was part of the agency’s efforts to attract younger players.
Similar to how online casinos in NJ and NJ sports betting apps have created additional revenue streams for gambling operators, state lottery officials are hoping for a comparable boost to its bottom line. Pennsylvania and Michigan (two states that also have legal online casino and internet sports gambling) reported increased lottery sales after introducing online purchasing capabilities, according to Carey.
Following the ruling earlier this month, a statement from NJ Lottery read, in part:
“The Lottery believes that this increase was directly related to the introduction of online sales and by appealing to the next generation of lottery players. These new lottery players, primarily under the age of 40, who are more online, are essential to the long-term viability and success of the lottery.”
Online gamblers can already purchase NJ Lottery tickets through carrier services, such as Jackpocket NJ and Lotto.
NJ delis, corner stores feeling left out
But direct sales threaten to cut out an important middleman: lottery retailers. Just like how Atlantic City casinos are feeling the pressure from iGaming, NJ Lottery sellers are worried about how much the digital convenience will cut into their sales.
The New Jersey Gasoline C-Store Automotive Association opposes the Lottery’s decision to allow direct digital sales.
“I just can’t imagine that this won’t take business that would have otherwise been in neighborhood stores, whether that’s irregular players jumping in on a jackpot now doing it on their phone, or regular players making a portion of their purchases online,” said Eric Blomgren, NJGCA chief administrator and director of government affairs.
NJ online lottery sales could end up in court, says lawmaker
Some state lawmakers are also taking issue with the changes, and the opposition has bipartisan support. According to New Jersey Monitor, state Senators Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) and Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) are taking the position that NJ law does not allow the state to sell lottery tickets directly to consumers.
The online news site cites attorney Michael DeLoreto, of Newark-based Gibbons PC (one of NJ’s most powerful and prestigious law firms), who agrees with the trio of lawmakers that the law does not permit what the NJ Lottery is attempting to do.
O’Scanlon, the state senator, said he believes the matter will end up in court.
Whether or not digital sales start next year, lottery players in NJ will have to continue taking that dollar and dream to their local deli to buy tickets for now.