State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Corbett on expanding PA Lottery: "We need more revenue."

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 29, 2012 2:54 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

The governor’s office is still reviewing the bid placed by British company Camelot on the Pennsylvania Lottery, after months of behind-the-scenes work. Privatization could mean expansion of the Lottery to include keno drawings and online gaming.

In an interview with reporters Thursday, Gov. Corbett downplayed his misgivings about gambling when discussing its potential expansion in the state.

“The question is, is there more gambling? Yes. Is there a benefit to it? Yes. Am I concerned about gambling addiction? Yes. But it is going on,” said Corbett. “And I’m looking at, you know, can we get more revenue for senior projects, for senior programs?”

Profits from the Pennsylvania Lottery fund programs for seniors..

Democrats have criticized the manner in which the Corbett administration has explored leasing the state’s lottery operations to a private firm. When only Camelot made a bid on the Lottery, some accused the administration of setting up a “sweetheart deal.” The bid is currently under review. Corbett said his office sought competition, and that he doesn’t “have an answer” as to why there was only one bidder.

Corbett also addressed the touchy issue of campaign promises of the Democratic Attorney General-elect, Kathleen Kane. He said he would, in theory, agree to talk with prosecutors tasked with investigating the handling of the prosecution of convicted child abuser Jerry Sandusky.

Kane pledged to investigate how Sandusky case was pursued under Corbett when he was Attorney General. Corbett criticized the promise as “playing politics” with what he called a plainly successful case to put a predator behind bars.

But when asked if he would agree to sit down for an interview with Kane’s investigators, he said, “Probably.”

“I’d have to see – if I believe it’s a political game, no,” Corbett added. “If I believe she – that they want to know exactly what was going on when I was there, and my thought process, sure.”

He suggested Kane would need to use outside prosecutors, so the people interviewing him aren’t the very staff members under his direction while he was heading the AG’s office.

Kane has criticized the office’s use of a grand jury to press charges against Sandusky, who is currently serving an effective life sentence in prison. She has said grand juries are notorious for taking a long time, and that Sandusky should have been arrested by state prosecutors sooner.

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Comments: 1

  • Tim Potts img 2012-11-30 11:25

    Two questions to consider.

    What is the current overhead (administrative costs) for the PA Lottery? What will be the overhead (administrative costs plus profit) for a privatized lottery? Until we know that, we won't know whether this change will actually produce greater revenue for seniors.

    Second, was there an RFP issued for a contract to operate the lottery? If so, when and with what requirements for bidding? Until we know that, we won't know whether the "competition" for this contract was fair or false. Personally, I find it impossible to believe that there was only one bidder and none from the US.

    A final comment: The desire to expand the lottery may or may not be based on a desire for more revenue. See Question 1 above. If it is, my guess is that the purpose of the expansion is to make more money for the private vendor. Do we know whether Corbett and others have received campaign contributions from those who are connected to Camelot? Was this proposed expansion ever discussed in the context of the state continuing to operate the lottery?

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