NJ Governor Conditionally Vetoes Bill Allowing Online Stadium Raffles

  • Gov. Murphy proposed changes to measure allowing remote sales of sporting event raffle tickets
  • He lauded bill sponsors for trying to restore viability of charitable fundraising during COVID-19
  • Governor’s suggested tweaks included use of geolocation technology, in-person prize collection
  • State raffle moderator LGCCC says NJ’s charitable gaming industry brings in $85m annually
social distancing signs on the campus of Princeton University, New Jersey
Despite vetoing a bill proposing remote stadium raffles, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy left the door wide open for legislators after both praising aspects of the bill and suggesting tweaks. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Too close to internet betting

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed a bill designed to allow charitable organizations to sell sports-event-based raffle tickets online. The veto placed on Monday was on grounds that the measure was too close to internet betting.

The proposed bill, sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Egan, came about as COVID-19 practically wiped out in-person attendance at big sports events. The legislation would allow residents to buy raffle tickets online without needing to be physically present in stadiums.

COVID-19 practically wiped out in-person attendance at big sports events

Under the Egan bill, draws announcing winners would take place remotely via raffles conducted electronically, provided that the groups hosting the raffles are at a large sporting venue during the ticket sales and draws. Participants would also need to be located within The Garden State during the raffle.

Despite his veto, Gov. Murphy commended the bill’s sponsors for their recognition of “a more subtle aspect” of the pandemic. He also praised the sponsors for their efforts in supporting and restoring “the viability of the charitable fundraising conduit provided through raffles.”

Murphy’s suggested tweaks to lawmakers

Following the passage of bill A-4625/S-2842 by the state Senate and Assembly in September, Egan issued a statement stressing the importance for New Jersey residents and businesses to safely take part in activities they enjoyed prior to the pandemic. “Allowing raffles – including charity fundraising raffles – to be held remotely is one way we can help people enjoy a part of the typical sports experience again,” he said.

Gov. Murphy’s main objection to the bill was that it didn’t limit remote raffles to periods of public health emergency only. He said he didn’t “see the rationale for extending indefinitely this expanded authorization, once […] stadiums are again filled with fans.”

remote raffle winners should collect their prizes in person

The Democratic governor then suggested tweaks to the bill, which included provisions that the extension be triggered at no time other than during a declared public health emergency. He also recommended introducing the same geolocation technology that the state’s casinos and racetracks employ to verify that online bettors are physically located within New Jersey’s borders. Remote raffle winners should collect their prizes in person from the sporting venue or charitable group’s HQ, Gov. Murphy added.

Michael Lahr, professor of planning and public policy and director of the Rutgers University Economic Advisory Service, said 16.7% of New Jersey’s 4.2m jobs were lost between February and May in restaurants, hotels, recreation, entertainment, personal services, and stores. Casinos were particularly hard hit. They received an order to shut on March 16 and, after almost four months, got the green light to reopen at 25% capacity starting July 2.

Challenge to the Commission

The Garden State governor also warned that the proposed bill could provide an extensive challenge for the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission (LGCCC). The LGCCC is the state agency responsible for moderating such raffles, in accordance with New Jersey’s Bingo and Raffles Licensing Laws.

The LGCCC oversees around 12,000 “charitable, educational, religious, patriotic, public-spirited organizations and senior citizen associations and organizations” registered to conduct bingo games and raffles in New Jersey.

According to the LGCCC, New Jersey’s charitable gaming industry brings in $85m annually.