Playing Online Lottery in New Jersey: Is it Possible?
US lottery fans have found themselves holding the short end of the stick—as far as online lottery goes—for a while now. Online gambling has been largely illegal and heavily regulated in most states for decades, but all of that seems to be changing with New Jersey leading the charge. Yes—you read that right. Playing lottery online is going be legal in the Garden State soon. If you’re a lottery lover, this is a HUGE game changing deal! That said, before you get ahead of yourself, let’s take a closer look, shall we? It’s not as cut and dry as it appears to be—not to mention the road to get to where it is now is quite an interesting read as well. First, let’s take a brief trek through time. [h2 display=”A Brief History Lesson” menu=”A Brief History Lesson”]
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
The Interstate Wire ActIt was back in September 13, 1961 when then President John F. Kennedy signed the Interstate Wire Act which prohibited all sorts of betting businesses from operating. It was a move that they hoped would deter organized crime. Still, the Wire Act became the basis for authorities banning online gambling—even though the internet didn’t even exist back then—for many years. Though the wording of the Wire Act made it clear that placing bets on sporting events or contests via wire communication is prohibited, the DOJ has long argued that it also encompassed wagers placed via online lottery couriers. It also didn’t help that, years later, another legislation would make it even harder for states to offer online lottery.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling ActIn 2006, then President George W. Bush signed the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act. It was aimed to protect the United States’ ports by giving customs agents the authority to inspect cargo containers for any dangerous materials. So, what’s the connection to online lottery? Tucked away into the US Port Security Act was the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (UIGA)—a legislation that made significant headway in finally banning online gambling. For some time, it was regarded as the final nail in the coffin as far as hopes for playing lottery online goes. Here’s where it gets interesting.
The Effect of the DOJ’s Wire Act ReversalIn September 2011, the US Department of Justice itself flip-flopped on their previous statements, opining that the Interstate Wire Act only referred to sports betting and not online gambling. It was a crucial step in the right direction. The DOJ’s backtracking on the Interstate Wire Act would pave the way for the (slow) resurgence of online lottery in the United States. For one thing, it allowed states to sell lottery tickets online, as well as allowed them to pass laws that would allow intrastate online gambling. This, in turn, would lay the ground work for New Jersey to start legalizing it again. However, the journey to get there was a long and arduous one. [h2 display=”The Road to Online Lottery Legalization” menu=”Road to Legalization”]
Opposition from all SidesWhile other states, like Minnesota, began offering online lottery subscriptions as early as November of 2011, New Jersey held off on offering its own online services—despite already having a legislation proposal in the can. Why? Like any controversial legislation, there was opposition from all sorts of people. Compulsive gambling groups, for starters, believe that making lottery easily accessible online could cause teenagers to become addicted to it—or that it could make things worse for those with existing gambling problems. Convenience store owners, meanwhile, feared that the introduction of online lottery in the state would cause their sales to plummet. It’s not just physical lottery sales they were worried about—but sales for food or drinks that regular lottery players would have bought along with the tickets, too.
Two Identical ProposalsAssemblywoman Annette Quijano felt otherwise. She was the main proponent of the legislation, after all. After failing to make it in time to buy a lottery ticket, she felt that—as the world was becoming more reliant on the internet—it was time for New Jersey to introduce online lottery into the mix. Former Sen. Raymond Lesniak apparently thought so too, because he introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both of them fought to have their proposals pushed through, but it wasn’t until years later that both of their visions would come closer to fruition. However, it was another tandem that would eventually succeed. [h2 display=”The Lotto Courier Law” menu=”The Lotto Courier Law”]
Under the RadarIn late 2016, right before Christmas, a bill that was co-sponsored by Atlantic, Sen. Jim Whelan and Assemblyman John Burzichelli pushed through the legislature. Signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie, the bill would finally legalize online lottery in New Jersey. Surprisingly, the bill itself didn’t attract much attention at first—mainly because it simply allowed lottery courier services to legally operate. Not many realized the full scope of the bill immediately. Upon closer inspection, the wording of the bill makes it possible for New Jersey to authorize third-party online lottery services to operate in the state.
What Does It Entail?The conditions inside the bill make it pretty clear that it sets the stage for the entry of online lottery companies in the Garden State. In a nutshell, here’s what the bill entails:
- Lottery courier services are authorized to sell lottery tickets online.
- They are also authorized to take payments via credit card.
- They can purchase and hold tickets on behalf of customers.
- They can redeem winning tickets on behalf of customers.