State House Sound Bites

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

Consider lottery plan's effect on the corner store, some say

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 21, 2013 6:14 PM
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Photo by Scott LaMar/witf

Small businesses are finding themselves a political football in the rhetorical fight over a plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Those who oppose a pending deal with Camelot Global Services have a number of objections, one of them voiced recently by the state House Democratic leader, Frank Dermody.

“The first casualties of this sale, of the governor’s plan, [are] all those businesses in your neighborhoods that are selling lottery tickets,” said Dermody at a state Capitol press conference.

Camelot has said its business plan would add bars, restaurants and taverns to the list of eligible lottery retailers. That could pose new competition to the typical convenience store selling tickets.

But Kevin Shivers, head of the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, said Camelot’s effort to get more people to play the lottery could actually be a boon for all retailers.

“It’s going to increase the awareness and hopefully the brand in the state lottery, which is going to increase ticket sales at existing businesses who sell lottery tickets,” said Shivers. He also noted the small businesses that would benefit from the plan to expand the kinds of establishments eligible to become lottery retailers.

Camelot is guaranteeing three to four percent more in annual lottery profits over the next 20 years, which would go, in part, to support programs benefiting seniors. Shivers says that will also decrease the likelihood small businesses will see higher taxes.

Executives from the British firm are slated to testify before a House committee about their plans for the lottery Wednesday.

The company’s pending contract is now under review by the state attorney general.

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