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Lottery sales continue to plummet

Dwindling sales spell trouble for state’s pension obligations.

By Nikita Biryukov, May 07 2020 6:21 pm

The state’s lottery revenues continued their COVID-19-fueled decline in April, with sales falling roughly 20% from the same month last year.

It’s not yet clear exactly how far year-over-year revenues fell last month — the Treasury has yet to release those figures and likely won’t until mid-May — but the continued drop-off could significantly impact the state’s ability to make its planned pension payments.

As part of reforms passed late into former Gov. Chris Christie’s second term, roughly $1 billion of lottery revenue is dedicated to pension payments.

While the extent of the lottery’s revenue shortfalls is not yet known, they’re likely to be severe.

In March, lottery sales fell by 15.5%. That meant revenue was down about 27%, or more than $29 million.

While most New Jersey businesses have been forced closed as part of the state’s coronavirus response effort, many lottery retailers, namely convenience and liquor stores, have been allowed to continue to operate under relatively-minor restrictions.

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