State lawmakers have had their first chance to grill the Corbett administration over a deal to privatize the operation of the Pennsylvania Lottery, and both Republicans and Democrats took full advantage of it.
A Senate panel hearing is the first public forum on the deal between the administration and Britain-based Camelot Global Services, which could be finalized this week.
Going in, both lawmakers and Corbett cabinet members figured things would be tense at the Senate hearing.
Some senators were still upset at the administration’s announcement last Friday that it would go ahead and finalize a contract with Camelot.
Senator Rob Teplitz of (D-Dauphin) attempted to separate two issues that have so far been intertwined in explanations from the Corbett administration: privatizing Lottery operations and expanding Lottery games.
“Isn’t it true that the administration does not need to sign this or any other agreement with an outside contractor in order to expand the Lottery into keno and online ticket sales,” said Teplitz.
Pete Tartline, from the governor’s budget office, responded, “We believe that’s true.”
Tartline also said the administration believes expanding gambling requires neither legislation nor privatization. But he says his office has looked at how much the Lottery could make in profits if it were able to expand gambling and still be run by its public management. The annual growth rate, he says, would be seven percent. Camelot is committing to a nine percent growth rate every year.
But he says his office has found even if the current public management of the Lottery were able to expand games, it would not raise as much in annual profits as Camelot is promising -- $34 billion over 20 years.
A union representing Lottery employees disputes that claim.