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Sen. Smith Questions Lottery Privatization

The first-term Democratic state senator called the decision to hire a British-based company to run the Pennsylvania Lottery a 'risky scheme' and questioned the motivation of Gov. Tom Corbett.

State Sen. Matt Smith is questioning how Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration made the decision to hire a British company to run the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The first-term Democratic senator from Mt. Lebanon said a hearing with the Finance Committee helped to shed light on the decision-making process by the administration, but it “does not forgive the actions taken that effectively cut the public and specifically seniors out of the process” to select the private operator.

The Corbett administration last week issued a notice of award to Camelot Global Services, a British-based company, to manage the Pennsylvania Lottery. The governor’s office has said privatizing the lottery will add billions to the state coffers to help its aging population.

But Smith, who now represents Upper St. Clair, called the decision a “risky scheme” and questioned the motivation of the governor.

“The administration’s decision to outsource the management of the Pennsylvania Lottery is a risky scheme for Pennsylvania that seems to rely on several unsubstantiated claims,” Smith said in a press release.

To shed more light on the deal, Alex Kovach, Camelot's managing director, and CEO Dianne Thompson, testified during Monday’s hearing, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They said their company would work to expand the lottery’s revenue base by working to encourage more residents to buy tickets, according to the newspaper.

Smith said he is concerned about the transparency of the process and why the plans continued after the state received just one bidder. He also is unsure how plans to add more games, such as Keno, will affect state residents.

Most importantly, though, Smith said he wants more information about how the changes would affect senior programs that are funded through the lottery.

“There are many serious questions that remain about this proposal and how it will impact vital programs and issues of concern Pennsylvania seniors,” Smith said. “After (Monday’s) hearing, I remain unconvinced that our seniors programs will be protected and that is something we cannot afford to risk.”

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Cynthia Fidago January 16, 2013 at 01:47 PM
I think this is a bad bad move and after what Corbett did to the younger voters with educational cuts and now he is targeting hurting our senior population, that doesn't leave him the votes for a second term. He's burying himself and his political career since this whole mess sounds very underhanded to most Pennsylvanians. I don't really play the lottery and I can tell you right now that regardless of what this company does, I won't play because of something they do - in fact - I think they will lose some of their loyal players since most are senior citizens! They'll go to the casinos instead. It's a lose-lose situation and I'm surprised someone who is suppose to be so intelligent wouldn't see it.
Glenn Robinson January 17, 2013 at 08:40 PM
I have a hard time with our government telling people that easy wealth can come from gambling. The people most hurt by the false hope of a state lottery are those who can least afford it. It just seems to be counter to the proper role of government.
bob balmer January 21, 2013 at 12:49 AM
The lottery is a tax on people who can't do math.

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