State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Dems urge caution on Pa. Lottery plans

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 7, 2014 6:00 PM

Photo by Scott LaMar/witf

The Corbett administration has signaled that any big changes to the Pennsylvania Lottery are likely to come from working with the state Legislature. Now, Senate Democrats are trying to wade into the negotiations.

Senate Republicans could soon advance legislation that would give the administration nearly what it wanted when it started pursuing lottery privatization more than a year ago. Legislation still under discussion nearly came to a committee vote in December that would have cleared a path for privatization and also allowed the Pennsylvania to expand its game offerings.

The Senate GOP's colleagues across the aisle are urging caution - and hoping to get a word in edgewise. Democrats remain opposed to outsourcing the lottery's management. But Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said Tuesday that other parts of the old privatization plan might be worth considering - like legalizing keno, the fast paced drawings that could make the lottery more profitable.

"If that's going to be an issue, we want to participate and we think our participation is necessary," Costa said, "Recognizing that we want to maintain as much as possible the current system."

The Senate GOP holds a slim majority, so unless it can count on nearly all its members to vote for a bill changing the lottery, the caucus would need some Democratic support.

Last month, the administration allowed the expiration of a private firm's bid on managing the lottery, though said the need to increase the lottery's revenue is still urgent in order to ensure funding necessary for programs that provide services to seniors in Pennsylvania. The private company's bid was dropped shortly after lawmakers began considering legislation to pave the way for its privatization. Senate Republicans expect to hold a hearing on the issue in the coming months.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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