A lottery bill that passed inconspicuously in New Jersey several months ago is suddenly raising eyebrows, after it turns out that the Garden State may have full blown online lottery sales by the time AB 3094 takes effect in November 2017. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law only a fortnight ago, but now it seems that AB 3094 could allow the government to authorize chosen companies to offer lottery tickets online.

The reason that questions are now being asked about the new bill is that it initially wasn’t marketed as an online lottery bill. Instead, it stated that licensed couriers could buy and deliver lottery tickets to New Jersey residents. However, reading between the lines, AB 3094 could be read to include the licensing of third party companies to sell lottery tickets over the internet. Essentially, these companies would have the right to sell lottery tickets to New Jersey residents online, to take their credit card details in order to pay for the ticket, and to store the ticket for them in their system. It will also allow these companies to pay out winnings if applicable.

The text that has some lawmakers uncomfortable is this: “In lieu of delivery of a purchased lottery ticket to a customer utilizing the courier service, a courier service may store such ticket on behalf of that customer, with the customer’s consent, if the courier service provides an electronic receipt of the ticket purchased with the numbers of the ticket shown on the receipt.”

To its credit, AB 3094 has plenty of safeguards within its text. For example, the State Lottery Commission will be responsible for licensing the “courier service” owner and personnel, and will also “safeguard the personal information, including credit card numbers, and properly verify the age and physical location” of the player.  Genuine concerns have been raised, however, as to whether the state’s gambling authorities are actually capable of overseeing all of this in a successful manner.

The company that lobbied to sell lottery tickets online in New Jersey is the Malta based Lotter Enterprises. The company, among other things, sells US lottery tickets to people all around the world. Lotter Enterprises has made clear its intentions to start offering online lottery sales to residents of New Jersey as soon as the bill takes effect later this year. Thelotter doesn’t currently offer services in most U.S. states, with Oregon being the best well-known exception.

 

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