Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto has introduced legislation to require any bid to privatize the state lottery be subject to approval of the state Legislature. The bill comes as Governor Chris Christie moves to privatize lottery services. Prieto says the Governor is moving ahead despite questions about the plan.

Lottery jackpots displayed at Quick Chek in Lawrenceville (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

“The proposal to privatize without public explanation one of our most profitable and well-run assets is troubling,” explains Prieto. “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.”

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.

Prieto says, “Privatization should be reserved for when the government cannot perform that function well on its own. Yet in this case, it appears that the only one that stands to benefit from this proposal is the company chosen to take over this asset. Legislative oversight is clearly warranted.”

The State created a lottery 42 years ago 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.