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(TRENTON) — Legislation Assembly members Paul D. Moriarty, John J. Burzichelli and Annette Quijano sponsored to prohibit the sale of lottery scratch-off tickets after the top prizes have been won was released Thursday by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee.

“It is patently unfair for a lottery game to have tickets available for sale with no chance of winning the top prizes because they already have been claimed,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester). “If the lottery were being run in this way by a private organization, it’s a fair bet that legal action would already have been pursued. The playing field needs to be leveled.”

Under the Moriarty/Burzichelli/Quijano bill (A-647) the state Lottery Commission would be required to notify lottery sellers when the top prize or prizes for a particular lottery scratch-off game have been claimed. At that point, the sellers would be required to stop selling the remainder of the tickets in their possession and would return the tickets to the state to be destroyed.

The sponsors noted their legislation is codifying a practice already employed by the commission.

“Playing the lottery is always a gamble, doubly so when it comes to scratch off tickets with a single big prize in the offering that may or may not be available,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), the panel’s chairman. “This would take the guesswork out of the equation and help ensure that anyone who chooses to play has a chance to play for the top prize.”

“This legislation would restore a fundamental fairness to New Jersey’s lottery scratch-off games,” said Quijano (D-Union), the committee’s vice-chair. “Scratch-off players shouldn’t have to gamble on whether there’s even a top prize to win when they choose to play.”

The bill now heads to the Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.

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