TRENTON – A state Senate panel today advanced a Democrat-sponsored bill which would require Legislative approval any bid to privatize the state lottery.
The bill (A-3614) comes as the Christie administration moves to privatize lottery services, despite numerous questions about the plan and the administration’s refusal to explain the plan to the public at Assembly Budget Committee hearings on the issue.
“The proposal to privatize without public explanation one of our most profitable and well-run assets is troubling,” said Asseblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen), the Assembly budget chairman. “The Christie administration appears ready to forfeit substantial long-term revenue for a one-shot payment that will also hurt small business owners and risk vital programs for our students, veterans and the disabled. More oversight is clearly needed.”
“Giving the lottery to a private vendor is like killing the goose that laid the golden egg,” said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “The Lottery generates nearly $1 billion a year to fund education and senior programs. Also, thousands of small business owners in the state rely on lottery sales as an essential element of costumer sales. It’s difficult to rationalize privatization under any circumstances, but it would be irresponsible to go forward with an award when only was bid was submitted.”
The state established a lottery in 1970 to be operated by the state, with the entire net proceeds dedicated to state institutions and state aid for education. Under current law, the state Lottery Commission and the Division of State Lottery in the Department of the Treasury administer the lottery in accordance with its constitutional and statutory mission.
The bill would require that a contract between the state and a private entity that provides for the operation of the state Lottery by the private entity must be subject to the approval of the members of the Senate and the General Assembly, by a majority vote of such members in the form of a concurrent resolution.
Under the bill, such a contract would not be operative unless thusly approved.
The bill was approved 45-29 by the Assembly in January and advanced Monday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.