New Jersey saw a million decline in lottery revenues this year, but lottery officials defended the firm that runs the lottery for the state, saying they prevented further losses.
Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger told a state oversight hearing examining the state’s lottery contract with the private firm Northstar, that the lower revenue figures—down to $960 million for the fiscal year—reflects a national trend of changes in consumer behavior, the Associated Press reported.
“Achieving flat revenues in the face of incredibly challenging national trends that no one foresaw when our agreement with Northstar was executed is an accomplishment nonetheless,” Hedinger said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie enacted a 15-year contract with Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group in 2013 to oversee parts of the state lottery. The decision drew criticism from state Democrats.
State Senator Bob Gordon, who chairs the legislative committee holding the hearing, said the state lottery at the times was widely regarded as highly efficient according to the AP.
“There’s a real question as to whether lottery privatization is paying off anywhere,” Gordon said.
However, Gordon told the AP after the hearing that he wants to wait until more revenue data is available before calling for any changes with the contract.
In 2014, the lottery was initially expected to bring in $1.04 billion in fiscal year 2015, but that figure was reduced to $955 million and later to $930 million, according to the AP report.
But officials said NorthStar had expanded lottery retail outfits in the state from 6,378 to 7,201, and sales grew by $98 million, despite a sales decline in Powerball and Mega Millions games. Revenues fell despite sales gains because some games are less profitable to the state, Officials said.