Lawmaker launches measure to block privatizing N.J. Lottery

    A New Jersey lawmaker believes the Legislature should have the final say on whether any functions of the state lottery should be privatized.

    The Christie Administration is seeking bids to have a private contractor take over the lottery’s sales and marketing. The current management and most lottery employees would remain in place.

    Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Vinnie Prieto says privatization should be reserved only for when the government cannot perform a function well.

    And the lottery, he says, has been run efficiently.

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    “This has been efficient. It’s been profitable. So I don’t see the need for it to go outside because, normally, when it gets privatized there’s going to be a markup,” says Prieto. “There’s a profit margin, that those investors are going to want to make.”

    Treasury Department spokesman Andy Pratt expects a private contractor would have the marketing expertise to boost sales and would get financial incentives for selling more tickets. He says the contract would also call for severe penalties if revenue targets are not met.

    Prieto, D-Hudson, has introduced legislation that would require any bid to privatize the lottery’s sales and marketing to get the Legislature’s approval.

    “We should be part of the process, and I think we are a stakeholder in this because it does bring a lot of revenue to the state,” he said. “It’s over a billion dollars and it’s roughly about 3 percent of our total budget.”


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