Pa. Lottery management deal adds $50M for seniors

Privatization move drawing criticism

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HERSHEY, Pa. -- The lottery management deal signed by Gov. Tom Corbett's administration will allow officials to spend an additional $50 million on programs for seniors in the upcoming budget proposal.

The contract with Camelot Global Services PA LLC has been signed by Dan Meuser, secretary of the Department of Revenue, Mr. Corbett announced Thursday during a news conference at a senior center here.

The deal now awaits approval from the state attorney general, which must be done within 30 days.

Camelot, which operates the United Kingdom lottery, has pledged to bring in more than $34 billion in profits over the course of a 20-year management contract, in part through introducing online ticket sales and keno.

Hitting its yearly profit commitments will allow the state to spend more of the lottery revenues, which fund a variety of programs for older Pennsylvanians, the Area Agencies on Aging, and improvements to senior centers.

The bulk of next year's increase, about $40 million, will go toward in-home care, allowing nearly 7,000 seniors currently on waiting lists to receive delivered meals and other support.

Many Democratic legislators have been critical of the Camelot deal, saying that the Corbett administration did not provide much information about the negotiations.

The Republican governor again responded to criticisms, pointing to the state's growing elderly population -- in 17 years, one in four Pennsylvanians will be older than 60 -- as the impetus for seeking a larger and more reliable stream of funding.

"Too often government does not plan for tomorrow," said Mr. Corbett, flanked by older residents and several Republican lawmakers. "This is about dealing generation to generation."

Still pending is a lawsuit from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13, which represents about 170 of the 230 state lottery workers. AFSCME is seeking to prevent a management contract from going into effect and also has filed a grievance and unfair labor practice complaint.

State treasurer Rob McCord, a Democrat, has raised questions about the contract, indicating that he will not cut any checks related to the management contract until he is certain that the contract and Camelot's business plan are legal.

During Thursday's news conference, Mr. Corbett described the management contract as simply privatizing another layer of the lottery's workforce.

"How many of you have bought [lottery] tickets from a state employee?" Mr. Corbett asked, challenging those who raised their hands. "No, not from a state employee. The sales force is already privatized."

The state will retain ownership of the lottery, as proscribed by federal law. Some current employees are expected to be hired by Camelot, and positions for those not hired by the firm will be found elsewhere in state government.

Crystal Lowe, director of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, applauded the anticipated funding increase as vital for seniors programs.

"It's an opportunity for us to address some of those needs that have been growing and growing," Ms. Lowe said.

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Harrisburg bureau chief Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254.


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