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CPBJ Extra Blog

Time to start real dialogue, debate on lottery's future

By - Last modified: February 18, 2013 at 9:51 AM
Brent Burkey
Brent Burkey

A funny thing happened on the way to Attorney General Kathleen Kane's decision to turn down a private management contract for the Pennsylvania Lottery on the grounds that Gov. Tom Corbett couldn't do something like that on his own.

Since I've been following the process pretty much since it started last spring, I've had more than one moment akin to Adam Sandler's great line near the start of "The Wedding Singer":

"Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!"

Cumulatively, I've now heard at least enough at this late stage in the game to make me think bringing in private management might be a good thing to help the lottery grow more revenue.

Most notably, this includes the projection that Camelot Global Services PA LLC's proposal would mean up to $4.5 billion more in profits over 20 years.

It would have been great to have put that number up against everyone else's in an open-door debate to actually figure out whether the state might be missing a great opportunity.

Unfortunately, the governor said that at the same time he also told the state his administration would sign the contract.

To be fair, the governor's administration has said it's been bound by legal requirements of the state procurement process and couldn't say too much too soon.

If that is indeed true, then fixing those rules is probably a great starting point to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

Then, let's figure out a way to take all the rest of the information developed — the concerns about certain gaming expansions, the union's ideas to spur growth, the ideas from Camelot, etc. — and have an honest discussion about what really would be in the best interests of Pennsylvania.

As Kane said about her office's decision, the ruling was on who gets to make such a call, not what the best business plan would be.

Brent Burkey covers retail, tourism, and Lebanon and York counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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