ATLANTIC CITY - New Jersey convenience store owners are worried that a proposal that would allow the state lottery to sell tickets directly to consumers would severely impact their businesses, the Associated Press reports.
Tushar Patel, owner of Pantry 1 Food Market in Hammonton said in addition to the 5-cents commission he earns for every $1 lottery ticket he sells, it is the lotteryï¿½ï¿½s impact on other in-store purchases that has him especially worried.
"Eighty (percent) to 90 percent of the people who play the lottery here buy coffee and other things," Patel said.
However, as New Jersey struggles with budgetary issues, a moneymaking operation like the lottery is a valuable commodity from which to try to squeeze even more profit.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano sponsored the proposal, which cleared the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee in December.
Quijano said the bill is far from complete and she continues to field concerns from businesses. At the same time, she maintains that online sales would not siphon away customers from convenience stores but would attract a new lottery audience instead.
"Whatever would help bring in additional revenues would help decrease property taxes, but I'm not going to do that on the backs of small businesses," she said.
The bill includes an amendment that requires the state to redistribute five percent of the electronic sales among lottery agents, though it does not provide implementation details.
Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association has been trying to assess the value of in-store sales associated with lottery ticket purchases. In January, he asked some storeowners to log the spending habits of ticket purchasers.
While Risalvato said he is still receiving results from the informal survey, he said anecdotally it adds up to significant money.
"If someone buys a couple of dollar tickets and a cup of coffee for $1.50, I just made a buck. I made a buck on the coffee and five cents on the lottery ticket," he said. "Many times, when I'm getting that cup of coffee (in the store), it's because I'm there. I smell the cup of coffee. We all have human nature built in us."