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February 7, 2013

Richard Kasunic | Corbett lottery scheme unraveling

— While the Corbett administration works to finalize a contract that would put our 41-year-old lottery under the managerial control of a private British firm, disturbing new revelations have emerged.

While Camelot Global Services officials recently traveled from England to appear at hearings in Harrisburg to make glowing pronouncements about how the Pennsylvania Lottery would thrive under their leadership, problems began to surface at home.

The Camelot brass proclaimed that they were confident they could reach new sales heights for our lottery, yet they were recently compelled to raise ticket prices at home.

While in a Harrisburg hearing room, Camelot’s leaders offered assurances that they would likely be able to offer jobs to nearly all 230 Pennsylvania Lottery workers. Yet a United Kingdom news source recently revealed that the company is laying off 80 staff people in England and closing numerous regional centers.

The story goes on to point out that while Camelot was laying off its workers, it was handing millions of dollars in bonuses to senior executives.

It is important to note that none of these troubling developments and business practices were disclosed in either the House or Senate hearings. 

While I am troubled by this, I cannot say I’m surprised.

The Corbett administration’s secretive deal with Camelot was consummated behind closed doors and concocted without any public disclosure or legislative authorization.

In my view, absent any massive and controversial gambling expansion that would usher in games such as Keno or Internet gaming, Camelot will not likely achieve its lofty sales projections.

Other states have tried this privatization route with disastrous results and consequences.

Pennsylvania Lottery is one of the best-operated lotteries in the nation – with increased sales every year. It has raised more than $27.6 billion for vital senior citizens’ programs ranging from PACE prescription drug assistance to the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program.

With this record of success, I fail to understand why our governor seems bent on saddling our lottery with foreign management for decades to come. And, the more we find out about this firm’s problems and business practices, the more uneasy we should be with this privatization scheme.

State Sen. Richard A. Kasunic’s 32nd district includes parts of Somerset and Westmoreland counties.

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