The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 22, 2013

Sens to Corbett: No online lottery

Associated Press

HARRISBURG — The state’s top Republican senators have asked Gov. Tom Corbett to make it clear that the Pennsylvania Lottery cannot compete with casinos through online gambling, and they warned that they may pursue legislation to cement that prohibition.

For months, casino owners have been quiet about Corbett’s politically charged plans to allow the scope of lottery gambling to expand in Pennsylvania under the guidance of a private management firm.

But the senators, including President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County and Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County, now say they want the private manager’s contract rewritten to prohibit interactive video games or simulated slot machines or table games, even if there are no plans for such games.

The concern, Scarnati said in an interview Tuesday, is the “bleeding into casino-land gambling.”

Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said his office has received no response from the administration. A spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, which oversees the Pennsylvania Lottery, had no immediate comment on the letter Tuesday.

The senators are waiting to see the administration’s response before they begin to draft legislation, Scarnati said.

On Thursday, the Corbett administration finalized a 20- to 30-year contract with British lottery operator Camelot Global Services to manage the state-owned lottery.

The deal has drawn heavy criticism from Democratic lawmakers, a lawsuit from the union that represents state lottery employees and a warning from Democratic state Treasurer Rob McCord that he may not approve payments to Camelot if he is not convinced that its plans to expand gambling are legal.

In their letter delivered to Corbett’s office last week, the senators said their concerns escalated after watching testimony at a Jan. 14 Senate Finance Committee hearing on the matter and reading through recently released documents about the management agreement with Camelot.

“There is a concern that the contract would allow Camelot Gaming or its subcontractors to expand the lottery from what is generally considered to be ‘keno’ and provide unlimited types of Internet and monitor-based interactive games,” the senators wrote. “Not only is this a broader expansion of gambling than has been described, but these games will directly compete against our highly regulated casinos.”

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