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Pa. Lottery will be privately run, Corbett signs off - abc27 WHTM

Pa. Lottery will be privately run, Corbett signs off

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HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) -

In a senior center in Hershey, Gov. Tom Corbett told a roomful of senior citizens that he's doing it for them.

"If we do not grow this lottery, we will have to shrink the services it provides," Corbett said.

The governor insists that an offer by Camelot Global Services to manage the Pennsylvania Lottery is too good to pass up. Camelot, of the United Kingdom, is promising $34 billion will come back to the state over 20 years, with a $200 million guarantee in case their promises come up short.

The governor says the deal won't just support programs for current seniors, but for a future wave of aging baby boomers.

"This isn't just aimed at the seniors who are here today. This is aimed at some of you that are out there. Dennis, this is aimed at you," Corbett said.

But unions and Democratic lawmakers are aiming their criticism and lawsuits at the governor. They're skeptical and suspicious of the deal and promise a fight.

"The hope is that we can overcome this," said Representative Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster), "so that the governor doesn't once again give something away carte blanche with no oversight, no regulation and say, 'Just trust 'em. They're ok. They're in the private sector.' "

Corbett says he's not privatizing the lottery, but letting a private company manage the lottery. And for the record, he said, nobody ever purchased a ticket from a state employee.

"It's already privatized because the sales force are the people in the stores that sell the tickets. It's already privatized," he said.

Some of the 170 workers will be reshuffled within the state, the governor said. Others can apply for jobs with Camelot. At a public hearing Monday, Camelot president Alex Kovach promised to rehire many of the current employees and said they could even form a union if they choose.

The contract is now on the desk of newly sworn-in Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the first ever elected Democrat. She has 30 days to review it for form and legality. Basically, she can't block the deal because she doesn't like the concept of privatizing lottery management. Her job is to pore over the contract and determine its legality. It will take effect six months after Kane's go-ahead, assuming that comes.

The Camelot deal calls for Keno in bars and restaurants and online games in the future.

"That, I wouldn't be so agreeable to," said Representative Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon) who otherwise agrees with the governor's plan. She was at the press conference and afterward said expanded gaming gives her, and other Republicans, pause.

"As legislators we become hawks on that," Gingrich said. "We will be watching that very closely. But at this point, I am not worried about it."

Neither is Corbett, not about legislative complaints or real or potential lawsuits.

"My legal counsel advises me that we have the authority to do this," he said.

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