House Democrats blast Corbett’s ‘corporate giveaway’ of Pa. Lottery
HARRISBURG, Dec. 3 – House Democratic leaders today sharply criticized Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to hand over control of the successful Pennsylvania Lottery to a foreign corporation, which could cost older Pennsylvanians hundreds of millions of dollars in lost funding for services over the life of the contract.
“We have said for months that this process has been too secretive, and we called on Governor Corbett to shine some light and transparency on his plan for privatizing the Lottery,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. “Now, when there is no General Assembly in session, he is trying to hand-deliver a lucrative contract to the lone bidder with no hearings, no legislative approval and no public scrutiny. This whole thing stinks.”
The Corbett administration announced on Nov. 20 that it was considering a bid from Camelot Global Services PA LLC for a 20-to-30-year contract to manage the Pennsylvania Lottery. The Canada-based company was the sole bidder for the lucrative contract. Camelot is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and is the operator of The National Lottery in the United Kingdom.
Democratic leaders decried the lack of openness and transparency in Corbett’s privatization quest for the Lottery. Indeed, few details of Camelot’s proposal have been released, leaving many unanswered questions. Still, Democrats said the little information they’ve seen is cause for alarm.
The House Democrats revealed a list of six secrets about the Camelot proposal that the Corbett administration has not yet publicly discussed. They are:
“This is nothing short of a massive corporate giveaway,” said Democratic Whip Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre. “From what we’ve seen, Camelot stands to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, while Pennsylvania seniors are left with less money to help them pay for their prescription drugs, transportation, property taxes and rent and other critical needs.”
The Pennsylvania Lottery is the only lottery in the nation to exclusively dedicate all its proceeds to programs for older residents.
“Governor Corbett should be transparent with the people of Pennsylvania and show us the Camelot proposal,” said Democratic Appropriations Chairman Joe Markosek, D-Allegheny. “What we’ve seen already is truly alarming, and we still don’t even have all the details.”
Dermody noted that Corbett’s plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery is based largely on projected increased profits to come from expanded gaming opportunities, including online games and Keno. He said there’s no reason to pay a private corporation to run those games when the current state employees could just as easily run them.
“The governor has not yet given a satisfactory answer to the one central question here: Why is he doing this?” asked Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Why does he want to spend millions of dollars to fix a lottery that isn’t broken? In fact, our lottery is a shining star among state lotteries. It just makes no sense.”
The Pennsylvania Lottery had a record year in 2011-12, with sales of nearly $3.5 billion and profits of more than $1 billion. For this fiscal year, lottery sales are on pace for another record, with profits nearly 10 percent higher than they were a year ago.