While business owners complained about the proposal to turn over sales and marketing operation of the New Jersey Lottery to a contractor, Democratic lawmakers on the committee wondered why they have such little information on the request for proposal.
One Republican lawmaker, Anthony Bucco (R-25), said the RFP has been public knowledge for 18 months.
But other lawmakers, like Troy Singleton and Bonnie Watson Coleman, complained about the lack of a cost benefit analysis. Singleton said a prior privatization report by the administration called for such an analysis to take place.
Seth Hahn of the CWA said that while the state will receive $120 million from the bidder who is awarded the contract, a portion of that could be used toward fines the contractor would have to pay if it misses certain Lottery targets. He said between 60 and 65 employees stand to lose their jobs in the sales and marketing division if the proposal goes through.
Vincent Prieto (D-32) looked the most puzzled about the necessity of the proposal, especially since the Lottery is award-winning. But, he said he “can’t talk to a letter,” a reference to the fact the Lottery director declined to appear in person before the Budget Committee.
Several members of the Asian American Realtors Association were on tap to oppose the plan, saying it will cut into their Lottery sales. Satish Poondi, policy director for AARA, said his members are the ones who’re mostly responsible for the state Lottery’s success, and wondered why the state didn’t reach out to them for input about the monetization proposal.
If fewer people come to the convenience stores to buy Lottery tickets, largely because the Lottery will be available at more big-box retailers and even online, Poondi said that could cause sales of secondary items – newspapers, food items, cigarettes – to fall as well.
Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gas-Convenience Automotive Association, said as fuel stations gravitate more toward having convenience stores instead of repair shops, it’s important to have Lottery tickets there. But having them available at more locations could hurt gas station owners, who tend to make 10 cents for every $3.50 of gas sold.