New Jersey Considers Changing Keno-style Lottery Game

New Jersey’s State Assembly is considering drastically changing a new keno-style lottery game which many see as a threat to Atlantic City casinos.

The New Jersey Lottery’s Quick Draw game is too quick for many state lawmakers who see the keno-style game as a threat to Atlantic City casinos.

So, the New Jersey State Assembly is considering a bill that would drastically reduce the number of daily drawings of the game from about one every five minutes to just twice a day.

The Assembly gaming committee began hearing testimony on the legislation. Quick Draw was introduced by the lottery about six months ago with estimates it would bring in about $20 million in revenue by the end of the state’s fiscal year in June.

But committee chairman Ralph Caputo said the former administration of Governor Chris Christie—who left office in January—gave very short notice to the state legislature of the game’s introduction before it was launched and they now have concerns the game will cut into Atlantic City’s revenue.

“It’s a sensitive issue. We’re talking about market share in gaming,” said Caputo, a co-sponsor of the bill to alter the game. “Anytime there’s a new game, it could take market share away from an existing casino.”

The Christie administration announced the game last April, and playing began in bars and restaurants in August. Through December it has brought in under $5 million, according to state figures.

Within the bill to limit drawings, Caputo wrote, “Quick Draw was approved … as a game to be played primarily in bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, and other locations where players spend time dining or socializing. This game is fundamentally different from lottery games as contemplated by the framers of the lottery amendment of the State Constitution.”

In the opening hearing, the committee heard from just two witnesses as lottery and state Treasury officials did not attend.

According to the Associated Press, Bob Marshall, the legislative affairs director of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, supported the bill to reduce drawings saying the game essentially expands casino-style gaming.

Diane Weiss, executive director of the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association, however, opposed the bill, saying the game has had a good response at bars and restaurants and has encouraged people to order more food and drinks at restaurants where it’s played.

Christie and the Legislature transferred the lottery, valued at about $13 billion to the state’s public pension fund last year. The move was designed to lower the pension’s unfunded liability, which the Christie administration estimated at around $50 billion. The move means that the lottery is indirectly helping public pensioners, according to the AP report,

Players can purchase a Quick Draw play for between $1 to $10. Prizes range from $1 up to $1,000,000 depending on the purchase amount. Players select from 1 to 10 numbers out of a pool of 80 numbers. The odds and potential prizes are determined by the quantity of spots selected. Players win by matching some or all of their numbers to the 20 numbers drawn.