But move to Web might eventually broaden the number of TV stations to carry live draws
EAST ORANGE, N.J. — It doesn't matter what changes: any time a change occurs at the lottery, there are some who won't like it.
Genevieve Tappan has played the New Jersey Lottery for more than 40 years, but hasn't bought a ticket since Saturday, when she realized the nightly drawings were no longer being televised.
"I like to see them pull it so they don't have the chance to switch it," said Tappan, 80, of East Orange. "Older people don't trust the system. We know what happens."
Last Friday, when the state switched from the state-run NJN to the privately operated NJTV, the New Jersey Lottery debuted a new live Internet version of the daily drawings. Viewers can now watch the drawings on the lottery's website, www.NJLottery.net and on its Facebook page.
But some players are unhappy with the change.
Tappan doesn't own a computer, nor do any of her friends, and she says they won't play the lottery again until they can watch the drawings on their televisions.
They may not have to wait long.
The Lottery's internet stream is broadcast quality and will be made available to TV outlets in the near future, according to spokeswoman Jacquie Fiorito. State officials are talking to WNET about incorporating the live stream into its NJTV programming.
The switch from TV to internet was done to save money, according to Fiorito, who said lottery officials decided not to renew the $1.2 million contract with NJN months ago, before state officials signed a contract with WNET to manage the TV operation. The lottery contract with NJN expired last Thursday.
After a one-time expense of $150,000 for a high-definition camera, studio and set, the lottery staff will produce the broadcast, saving more than a million dollars a year, Fiorito said. Last year, the lottery grossed $2.6 billion and contributed $924 million to educational programs and state-sponsored institutions for veterans, the developmentally disabled and others.
Fiorito said the number of viewers watching the TV broadcast was too low to justify the continued cost.
"We get 155,000 visitors a day on our website, and we were getting maybe 20,000 a week on NJN," she said. "We just couldn't justify a $1.2 million contract for less than 20,000 people a week watching."
Lottery officials were expecting resistance to the change, said Fiorito, who said she tells unhappy callers that the numbers are still being pulled live, even if they don't have Internet access to witness it. "Our first priority was the integrity of the draw. We're happy to say it has been without a glitch," Fiorito said. "It is still audited, people are still winning."
The drawings are streamed on the lottery website and on Facebook at 12:57 and 7:56 p.m.; Mega Millions numbers are drawn Tuesday and Friday and Powerball numbers are picked Wednesday and Saturday. Those drawings are at 10:59 p.m.