Labor Union Launches Campaign Against Lottery Privatization

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TRENTON – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) have launched a television ad campaign to oppose Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to privatize the state lottery. The commercial will run as a statewide cable buy for the next few weeks.

(CWA television commercial opposing privatization of the New Jersey state lottery)

“Even though New Jersey has an efficient, award-winning lottery, Gov. Christie is stubbornly seeking to privatize it. This is a big gamble in terms of both job loss and our state’s economy,” said Seth Hahn, legislative and political director for CWA NJ. “With one in ten New Jerseyans already out-of-work, lottery privatization is a bad deal which would make foreign corporations rich while making things worse for taxpayers and small businesses.”

Only a single bid to run sales and marketing functions of the state lottery was submitted on Dec. 27, 2012, and it was by a partnership consisting of three groups. One is Italian-owned, one is Canadian, and the other is from New York. The Christie administration estimates that $1 billion or more could go to the company over the life of the contract.

The Asian American Retailers Association (AARA) estimates the privatization scheme could result in 7,000 New Jersey jobs lost. AARA estimates local lottery vendors will lose a third of sales in the first year alone. Moreover, they’ll lose secondary sales that come with the purchase of lottery tickets – such as newspapers, coffee and other daily-purchased items. In other words, a politically-connected foreign corporation would rake in profits, while New Jersey’s local businesses would lose both revenue and jobs.

“Rather than stripping customers away from small businesses at a time when our state has the nation’s fourth worst unemployment, the governor should be working to make the lottery even stronger with dedicated public employees,” said Hahn. “We’re willing to roll up our sleeves and get this done if Governor Christie is, too.”

As part of the push to privatize, Christie commissioned a study that showed how New Jersey’s award-winning lottery was one of the nation’s best-run public lotteries. The study found that our lottery had the highest net income margin in the country – making New Jersey America’s most efficient lottery. It ranks 5th in per capita sales, while online, instant and total sales growth have all far exceeded the national average.

Just as the Christie administrationt has refused to answer questions about plans for the lottery, even rejecting invitations from the Assembly Budget Committee on two occasions. These rebuffs led the New Jersey State Assembly to seek subpoena power over executive branch officials on issues with significant budget impacts.

Today, the New Jersey Senate’s State Government Committee is discussing two pieces of legislation on the matter in Trenton. One bill requires legislative approval for private operation of the state lottery. The second is a resolution calling on Christie to seek legal counsel from the Department of Justice before awarding the contract.


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