The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 15, 2012

No to gambling expansion; yes to privatization

— Should Pennsylvania expand its already-extensive legalized gambling opportunities?

We say no.

Should the state privatize its lottery system?

It’s certainly worth exploring. When it comes to running a business, the private sector does a much better job than government.

Those were two issues discussed simultaneously last week by Gov. Tom

Corbett, who apparently doesn’t agree with us about legalizing even more games.

Corbett told media members that ideas are on the table to add keno and online games as ways to produce more revenue for programs for the elderly.

The administration, The Associated Press reported, made the statement as part of an update on its talks with companies about privatizing the management of the $3.5 billion lottery system under a 20-year agreement.

Those privatization talks apparently and understandably have stirred more interest – or should we say resistance? – than have any plans for lottery game expansion.

The move to privatize is being opposed by Democrats and the state’s largest employee union, who question why it is appropriate to pay a private company to run the lottery when the state employees who do it now are producing increased sales and are capable of overseeing the expansion of lottery gambling.

Lottery sales increased last fiscal year by 8.5 percent and, after paying prizes and expenses, returned slightly more than $1 billion for state programs.

Corbett has said that privatization will happen only if the state can guarantee itself more money.

We welcome exploring the privatization idea. What we don’t like is the fact the administration is keeping secret which companies it is talking with.

Certainly other states, such as Indiana and New Jersey, have shown no need to keep such secrets while exploring private lottery management contracts.

When government officials work behind closed doors or in secrecy, it raises questions of possible wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, our objections to expanding gambling should come as no surprise to our readers. We long have been opponents of gambling.

With its entertainment value come too many side effects – including crime and family problems – which we have documented many times over the years.

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