Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Any Number in Capital Oppose Lottery Plan

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Any Number in Capital Oppose Lottery Plan

Article excerpt

Is this lottery game over or can we keep playing?

Gov. Tom Corbett believes it's over. He announced last week that he will turn over the big prize, a 20-year contract to manage the Pennsylvania Lottery, to a British company. But people in and out of the statehouse are saying: Not so fast; we think this multibillion- dollar switcheroo may be gaming the citizenry.

You can't say that's just partisan politics. Some of the blowback is coming from Mr. Corbett's fellow Republicans. Five GOP senators, including President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati and Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, wrote the governor a week ago saying his deal includes "a broader expansion of gambling ... [that] will directly compete against our highly regulated casinos."

You'd think in the state where this nation's system of checks and balances was born, a governor couldn't just take a billion-dollar asset and decide what to do with it for the next 20 years. But are the ongoing lottery hearings in the General Assembly akin to the Committee to Close Barn Doors in a Horseless Barn? The state contract with Camelot Global Services was signed the same day that Republican senators dated their letter complaining about the keno- driven scheme.

"I don't think it's over," Jay Costa, the Senate Democratic leader from Forest Hills, insisted Wednesday.

Mr. Costa and Frank Dermody, the House Democratic leader from Oakmont, are urging Attorney General Kathleen Kane not to sign off on this deal. A couple of other Democratic lawmakers are party to the lottery workers union's suit to block the deal, and Mr. Costa expects the Democratic caucus from each house to file briefs in opposition, too.

He says the governor has the right to privatize management of the lottery, but so much authority has been turned over in this case that he believes it violates federal law. He also believes legislation can be crafted to define a game of chance so this keno plan of the Brits never crosses the Delaware.

"It would make every bar a casino and every home computer like a slot machine," Mr. Costa said.

Camelot operates the United Kingdom Lottery and advises the California and Massachusetts lotteries, but Pennsylvania's would be the first state lottery it manages. …

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