State House Sound Bites

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

Secretary of Aging defends Lottery negotiations as talks begin to postpone decision

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 19, 2012 4:17 PM
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Photo by www.palottery.state.pa.us

Plans to lease the operations of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private company have been met with rebukes from Democrats and a lawsuit whose petitioners include the union that represents some Lottery employees.

Amid the swirl of criticism suggesting plans to privatize the Lottery have been secretive, the state’s Secretary of Aging, Brian Duke, is defending the process and the pending deal itself. He said during an appearance on witf’s Radio Smart Talk that it’s reasonable to search for opportunities to increase profits through privatization.

“This comparative analysis we’re doing between the Lottery and a bidder who has submitted a bid, Camelot, is to find out what is the best way to make sure that that income is predictable and it is enhanced so that we can meet need,” said Duke.

The Lottery funds almost 70 percent of the Department of Aging’s budget. The commonwealth’s elderly population is on the rise -- expected to double by 2030.

A spokeswoman with the Department of Revenue says the administration is in talks to extend the deadline of the bid on the Lottery past December 31st – that date can be pushed back with the consent of both the commonwealth and Camelot Global Services.

Democratic state lawmakers have protested that the terms of the Lottery bid include an expansion of gambling that would require their approval. The Democratic state Treasurer has also questioned the legality of the deal, threatening not to disburse funds for the Lottery’s operation until it’s clear the contract doesn’t run roughshod over the General Assembly.

But Duke said the Corbett administration doesn’t need to get approval from state lawmakers to privatize the Lottery make a gambling expansion a part of such a deal.

“Think back when Powerball games came to Pennsylvania. There was no act of the Legislature,” said Duke. “The lottery law allows the Secretary of Revenue discretion to determine how the lottery should be run, in terms of games, in terms of how we operate the Lottery and move forward.”

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