State's The Big Winner in Lottery Ticket Theft
(Texas Retailers Face Same Exact Problem As New Jersey Retailers)

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Originally Posted: March 14, 2002

State's the big winner in lottery ticket theft

Published in the Asbury Park Press 3/06/02
Staff Writer
New Jersey

My comments are in blue italics

HAZLET -- A thief stole $1,299 worth of lottery tickets from Sal's Deli. That's turning out to be a big loss for owner Sal Abela and a disappointment to the culprit, while the state lottery rakes in a tidy win.

The New Jersey Lottery Commission says that under its rules, Abela has to pay for those tickets, even though the commission rendered them all worthless as soon as it was notified of the theft.

Abela, 59, owner of the Bethany Road deli, discovered that his business had been burglarized when he arrived to work early on Feb. 17. The front door was broken in, and several cartons of cigarettes and a rack containing six 100-ticket packages had been stolen, said township Detective Jeffery Miller.

Abela called police, then the Lottery Commission, which immediately saw to it that no one could try to cash in a winner.

But although the slips are now worthless, Abela still has to pay.

"This is a stickup! That's what it is," said Abela, who is upset that he has to come up with the money for tickets that he believes will not cost the commission a cent.

"The bottom line is I'm responsible for the tickets, and I have to pay for them," Abela said. "But why should I have to pay for these tickets if they aren't coming out of their pocket?"

(I know retailers who have the attitude that if they should get robbed, they just as soon let the thief cash in the winning tickets because of the TLC policies. Why should the state not have to pay out when everyone else does? Of course, retailers also have the incentive to go on and report it to the TLC just as a safety precaution to prevent future robberies too.)

Linda Malone, deputy director of marketing and sales for the lottery commission, said merchants must sign a contract of consignment, meaning the retailer is expected to pay for any tickets in his possession.

"Our rules and regulations stipulate a signed agreement that retailers are responsible for both lost and stolen tickets," Malone said. "Each and every case is looked at on an individual basis, but the retailers are ultimately responsible."

Abela said that even though he disagrees, he'll pay so he can continue to sell lottery tickets to customers.

"I have a really bad taste in my mouth because of this, but I can't ignore my customer's needs," Abela said.

Rodney Point-Du-Jour: (732) 863-1500, Ext. 7751, or

- End Story -

In addition to this, in Texas, if a thief steals scratch tickets that have not been "activated," then the retailer still has to pay the TLC $25 per stolen pack even though the tickets are totally useless to anyone. The lotteries count on the retailers insurance company to pay for the stolen merchandize even though the retailers deductible is very high. Not only that, insurance premiums are higher when retailers carry lottery products. This is ONE of several complaints the retailers have. This should help you better understand why retailers no longer push sales and down play the lottery in their stores. As it stands today, the majority of the retailers carry the lottery as a courtesy to their customers ONLY.

Also, one more tidbit. The TLC & G-Tech have come out with new lottery terminals and they are heavily publicizing a special new feature. Regarding the new terminals, the press release says, "... which include customer display screens that allow players to see if their tickets are winners." The "catch 22" to this is that for the retailer to have this feature, he must place his machine in front of the customer so the customer can see the back of the machine. Now remember, the retailers are already fed up with the amount of work and the liabilities they encounter for being lottery retailers, and now the TLC is trying to force them to place their machines in a highly visible location without paying them for the exposure. Trust me, the retailers profits are not sufficient and profits have been declining each and every day for the past several years.

It is my opinion that the players and the retailers are the ones who take a royal beating. The state with all of its "rule changes" lowers the players payouts and they won't increase commissions to the retailers. By doing this, they TLC makes the same profits even though sales are down. THIS IS WRONG.

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