New Jersey Joins Ranks Of Online Lottery States


New Jersey has the oldest horse racing track in the U.S. — Freehold Raceway, which has featured races since the 1830s. It also is the only state to offer “exchange wagering” on races, so fans can wager on an outcome in the middle of the race.

The state was the second to legalize casinos (in the 1970s), the second to offer a full slate of online casino gaming (in 2013), the third to add online poker (also in 2013), and the third to offer legal sports betting (in 2018).

So perhaps it is a mild surprise that New Jersey’s implementation of an online lottery system via a courier makes the state the fifth to do so, behind New Hampshire, Texas, Minnesota, and Colorado (as well as Washington, D.C.).

While a bill was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie in Trenton in 2017 — two years after he vetoed virtually the same bill — it wasn’t until last week that the new online gambling opportunity went live.

The courier system is a bit different than the online lottery offered in states such as Georgia or Illinois.

There’s an app for that

There is an app called Jackpocket that is the first to be approved in New Jersey.

Customers pay a 7% service charge on their initial deposit. You indicate which game you want to play and how much you want to risk.

A Jackpocket courier then buys a physical ticket at a traditional store selling the tickets, and texts you a scan of the ticket — front and back — to the app. This eliminates the worry about misplacing that paper slip, and you also get an email with the serial number of the ticket. The paper ticket, meanwhile, gets stored in what Jackpocket says is “a fireproof safe.”

If you win less than $600, the money gets deposited into your account. Should you be even luckier, you have to go to a New Jersey Lottery retailer in person.

The courier system in New Jersey will offer Mega Millions, Powerball, and Cash4Life, as well as New Jersey’s own Pick-6.

Jackpocket has a key certification from the National Council on Problem Gambling — which at first may seem counterintuitive. But NCPG executive director Keith Whyte makes the same point that many advocates of legalized online poker and other online casino games did almost a decade ago. A mature-looking 16-year-old — two years shy of the minimum age to buy a lottery ticket in New Jersey — might not even be asked to show an ID by a busy retailer. But to register with the Jackpocket app, you need to provide identifying information in all cases.

Lottery looks to get younger

The move to online lottery tickets also is a nod to millennials who increasingly avoid purchasing anything at brick-and-mortar locations.

“In New Jersey, 5.5 million adults actively use their smartphones to make daily purchases for everything from food to music,” said James A. Carey, acting executive director of the New Jersey Lottery. “Now online players can use their smartphones to access a more convenient way to participate in the Lottery within state borders. Tech-savvy adults are will appreciate the consumer protections written into the regulations developed in compliance with this act, which allow for a fun and responsible gaming experience.”

Carey added that as additional courier services are approved, the costs may vary.

“It’s important to note that courier services will have established fees, but prizes will not be subject to any additional courier charges,” said Carey. “To understand a courier’s fee schedule, visit their website or app for additional information.”

In May, Jackpocket added “VIP private pools,”  allowing dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of friends or co-workers to join in with a clear accounting of who’s in and who’s not. It also allows for participants to deposit more than one share, and the system can then list exactly how much each entrant wins off that big jackpot.

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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