Been & Going

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] One World Observatory

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Jersey Joe checks out the observation deck, One World Observatory on top of One World Trade Center in New York City.

THE 411

What: One World Observatory

Where: top of One World Trade Center

Location: New York City

Purpose: observation deck, tourist attraction

Floors: 100-102


This is a great tourist attraction in New York City.  I never got to visit the original World Trade Center before it was destroyed, but I’m glad this is open to once again allow visitors a chance to experience the view.

There are a couple of things to remember… first, expect airport style security.  They check everything going in.  It is exactly the same security as you would expect at the airport.  The only difference — you are not required to take off your shoes, but everything else is the same. Hats, jackets, belts… they are all coming off!

Secondly, if you want to visit the bar or restaurant, you must purchase an observatory ticket.  There is no way around this.  So, don’t expect to just ride an elevator for a view just to go to the bar — you’re paying for the full experience.

The World Trade Center area is still a construction site.  As of this post, there are still massive areas of construction and the main transportation hub for the PATH and subways is still not complete.  Expect to find many temporary walkways and partially opened entrances at this time.


The Two State Lottery Challenge: The Rematch [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

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Last year, I put the New York Lottery and the New Jersey Lottery to the test.  I wanted to find out which state’s instant scratch off tickets paid off the most – The Empire State or The Garden State.  Using the same amount of cash and a random selection of tickets, I joined the ranks of millions who are scratching off to win big bucks on these instant games.


Instant lottery scratch off tickets: they’re meant to play a fast game and to make a quick buck.  It’s portable form of gambling that states have relied on for extra revenue since the 1980’s.  (You can read about my original discussion of instant lottery games here). The instant games are more popular than ever, to the point where states are now installing vending machines to attract commuters to play on the go.


Lottery player uses the vending machine to purchase scratch off tickets at the 33rd Street subway station in New York City.

Lottery player uses the vending machine to purchase scratch off tickets at the 33rd Street subway station in New York City.

Last year, I invested $55 and stopped first at the New York Lottery vending machine at the 33rd Street Herald Square station in New York City.  I put $30 into the machine and randomly selected a number of tickets.  Once I got off the PATH in Jersey City, I stopped at a local newsstand and had them randomly select tickets with the remaining $25.


After over 40 minutes of scratching, the New Jersey Lottery $25 investment earned me $42, while my $30 New York Lottery investment earned me only $4.  I declared New Jersey the winner and the whole experiment left me with a net loss of $9.


You can read the full report of last year’s challenge here.


Now, these are supposed to be random games of chance, so to be completely fair, I decided that another challenge would be needed and I did just that last week.


Once again, I stopped at the New York Lottery vending machine at the 33rd Street station and deposited $25.  I again picked one large $5 ticket and then randomly chose a selection of lower denomination games.  Once back off the PATH in Jersey City, I again stopped by the same newsstand and had the clerk select $25 in random games, with the only rule being that I needed one $5 ticket to match what I had purchased in New York City.

ny lottery tickets

Upon arriving home, I examined the stack of tickets and here’s what I got:


From the New York Lottery – 12 tickets


$5 Million Dollar Money Clip

$3 Spin 3

$2 Lucky 8’s

$2 Lucky 8’s

$2 Lucky 8’s

$2 Happy Birthday

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$1 Loose Change

$1 Amazing 8’s

$1 5x Cash


nj lottery tickets

From the New Jersey Lottery – 10 tickets


$5 Money Match

$3 Power Play Crossword

$3 Zuma

$2 Love to Win

$2 Classic Bingo

$2 Big Money Spectacular

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$2 10x Money

$2 Fire & Ice

$2 Hit $50’s


Since there were more tickets in the New York Lottery stack; I went with those, first.


I started with the lower denomination tickets and first up was the $1 5x Cash.  To win, all I had to do was match 3 symbols.  And…. a loser.


Then went with the $1 Amazing 8’s.  Same deal, match three 8’s and win.  Too bad, I lost again.


Next up was the $1 Loose Change.  This game was a little different.  The player is presented with six boxes containing coins.  After scratching off the six boxes, the total of what’s inside must go over $1 to win a prize.  Mine did!  My total was $1.05.  I scratched the prize box to reveal I had won my $1 back!

ny lottery loose change

Finally, a winner!


Next up, was the three $2 Win $1,000 A Week for Life games. I was really hoping for a big win on this one.  I could use a grand handed to me every week!  Who couldn’t?

ny lottery winner 12

These tickets contain two games each.  The first game is a classic beat the house game.  The player is given a number, if the player number is higher than the house number – you win the prize shown on the line.  On my first ticket – a hit!  I bet the house 12 – 7 and won $2!

ny lottery winner 5

The second game on the ticket is the classic New York Lottery standard of matching three like dollar amounts.  On the next two tickets, I did just that winning $2 and another $5!


Four winners in a row!  Things were starting to look up for the Empire State!


I then went for the $2 Happy Birthday… another dud.


I then had 3 of the $2 Lucky 8’s games.  In this game, you scratch off the player area which features a number and a prize amount.  If your number matches one of two house numbers, you win the prize.  If an 8x symbol appears, you win 8x the prize!  A coin picture also denotes an instant prize win.

ny lottery winner 8x win

I scratched the first two tickets – and nothing.  Finally, I went for the third ticket.  Right away, I matched the house number of 16 and won $10!  Further down the line, I uncovered an 8x symbol with a $5 prize that paid off $40!  That’s a total of $50!  I’ve never won that much on a scratch off lottery ticket in my life!


I still had two of the biggest tickets to go.


Next was a $3 Spin 3.  This game was kind of lame, there’s no spinning involved.  You are presented 10 different games.  All you have to do is match three like symbols in each game to win the prize.  Think of it as a slot machine on a scratch off card.  It didn’t matter, I got squat.


Finally the big $5 Million Dollar Money Clip game.  Match your number to one of the house numbers and win that prize.  A 10x awards 10 times the prize and a coin icon wins that prize.  Sadly, I got nothing here.


So, for my $25 New York Lottery investment, I walked away with $60!

nj lottery 50s ticket

Then it was time to do battle with the New Jersey Lottery.  I started in the same order with the lowest tickets first and that was a $2 Hit $50s.  (New Jersey doesn’t seem to offer $1 scratch off games.)  Again, you have to match your number to one of the house numbers and win the prize shown.  I matched with a 12 and won $2!  Things were already looking up once again for the Garden State.


Next was a $2 Fire and Ice game that was definitely icy cold.  Nothing.  Same deal for $2 10x Money, $2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life, and the $2 Big Money Spectacular.  The win $1,000 a Week for Life is a popular game that is available in many different states.  I’ve played that in Pennsylvania in the past.


A New Jersey Lottery Bingo scratch off instant game ticket.

A New Jersey Lottery Bingo scratch off instant game ticket.

Now it was on to the $2 Classic Bingo.  This game took a long time to play.  You are presented with 25 Bingo Ball numbers on the left.  You scratch them off one by one and play the numbers on one of your four Bingo cards.  Payouts are different for each card and each way you get a bingo.  There are 12 different payouts that are printed next to each game.  After scratching off all the ball numbers, I had to transfer them to the game board.  After 10 minutes or so, I had a diagonal bingo on card 2 and that scored me $2.  Had that been on card four, that payout would have been $5.


I then went for the $2 Love to Win, which was a classic match the house number scratcher.  No love here, I got nothing.


Next up was a $3 Zuma ticket.  Have you ever played this game online?  In the online game, you have to shoot at multicolored balls rolling along a track to make them disappear before reaching the end.  I was surprised to see how well this turned this into a scratch off game.


It was one of the more unusual layouts.  You are presented a circular game board with six games of balls presented in groups of three.  If your three balls match the color, you win.  Sadly, mine did not.  It was a great nod to the online game, though.


Next was the $3 Power Play Crossword and this thing took a long time to complete.  You uncover 10 house letters.  The player is then presented with a completed crossword puzzle.  You task is to take the 10 house letters and scratch them off anywhere they appear in the puzzle.  If you complete three words, you win a prize.  The prizes go up with the more words you completely uncover.  A pay table is posted on the back.  It was useless to me; I only rubbed off two words.

nj lottery money watch

Lastly, was the $5 Money Match game.  Same deal as many other tickets.  You get 5 house prize amounts.  If you match one, you win.  If you match an amount, but yours is in green color, you win double the amount.  Find a money bag and win $50.  Find a green money bag and win $100!  I matched and won $5.


So, the total won in New Jersey from my initial $25 investment was only $9.  I lost $16 to the Garden State.


Many of the New Jersey games that I played were quite involved.  Instead of just finding three like symbols as in most games, here you are required to use some thought.  Matching the letters in the Crosswords game took some time as did the Bingo game.  So, if you’re looking for instant gratification with matching three symbols, then look for the simpler games as some of the choices can get quite complex.  The bonus with selecting one of these tickets from a vending machine is that you can take a closer look at what’s required before making your selection.  It’s a little hard to do when there’s a ton of people in line at the bodega waiting to play their Powerball numbers and pay for a jug of milk.


The total time I spent scratching 22 tickets: 41 minutes 31 seconds.  It was thanks to some of those complex games I got from New Jersey that added took extra time.


All the mess left behind after 40+ minutes of scratching off instant lottery tickets.

And here’s a look at the pile of shards left behind from all the scratching.  Wonder if this stuff is toxic?


THE 411


What: Instant Lottery scratch off games


States played: New York, New Jersey


Denominations: $1 – $5

scracthed off lottery tickets



This was a completely different outcome from the last experiment.  I won $60 in New York and only $9 in New Jersey.  It was that one large hit on the NY ticket that changed everything.  For my $50 investment, I walked away with $69.  Not a life changing amount, but still a winner none the less.


The New York Lottery games also offer a second chance drawing.  By going online and entering the code on the ticket, players have a chance to win more random prizes.  That’s a great feature more state lotteries need to adopt.


The New Jersey Lottery has also gotten into the ticket vending machine business.  They recently signed a contract with Wawa convenience stores to have machines installed in all of their Jersey locations.  I hope this program extends to other stores throughout the state.  Judging by the popularity of the New York machine at 33rd Street, New Jersey could make some big bucks putting these in train stations targeting commuters who are just standing there waiting.


With the second match now complete, the lottery challenge series is tied 1 – 1.  It looks like I will have to do a tiebreaker in the future to find out which state has the loosest scratch off lottery tickets.


For more information:

The New York Lottery

The New Jersey Lottery