Gambling is a prohibited activity in New Jersey -- except in the case of certain amusement games, bingo, raffles, parimutuel horse racing, casino gambling and lotteries. The parties in this case engaged in a prohibited gambling activity, namely, the sale of a share in a lottery ticket. This is a crime under our statutes. This court, by reason of its obvious ethical obligations, must report the matter to the prosecutor. CJC, Canon 1. In addition, since the transaction was illegal, the court cannot assist the parties in resolving their differences but must leave them where it finds them.
Ethel Ports held a legally purchased lottery ticket entitling her to participate in the New Jersey lottery bonus drawing held on March 30, 1988. As a participant in that drawing, she could expect to win a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $1,000,000. Her friend, Ciro Della Croce, offered to purchase her ticket for $5,000, an offer which she refused. Instead, she offered to sell him a one-half interest in the ticket for $3,000, an offer which
he accepted. Ports won $50,000 (the second prize), accepted and deposited Della Croce's check for $3,000. Both travelled to lottery headquarters in Trenton to collect the prize monies, then reduced to $40,000 by reason of income tax withholding requirements. The $40,000 was paid to Ports only since the ticket was in her name. A few days later, Ports decided that she should not honor her agreement, so advised Della Croce by letter and returned the $3,000 by sending him her check in that amount. He now sues for his share of the prize money. That share and the $3,000 check are held in escrow by order of this court pending the disposition of the litigation. Ports moves for summary judgment. This opinion responds to that motion.
The transaction violates our gambling statutes. The lottery law itself, pursuant to which the Ports ticket was sold, addresses the issue. N.J.S.A. 5:9-14 provides:
No person shall sell a ticket or share at a price greater than that fixed by rule or regulation of the commission. No person other than a licensed lottery sales agent shall sell lottery tickets or shares, except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any person from giving lottery tickets or shares to another as a gift.
Any person convicted of violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. [Emphasis supplied]
N.J.A.C. 17:20-6.2(e) also provides:
No person shall sell a lottery ticket, nor share, at a greater or lesser price than that fixed by individual game rules. [Emphasis supplied]
The parties are also guilty of promoting gambling in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:37-2a which provides:
(1) Accepts or receives money or other property, pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person whereby he participates or will participate in the proceeds of gambling activity; . . .
Ports received money for a share of her lottery ticket and Della Croce received property, a share in the ticket. Both expected to participate in the proceeds of gambling ...