Corbett says decision on Pennsylvania Lottery is imminent

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LANCASTER -- Amid continued criticism of the tightly held process used to choose a private firm to manage the state lottery, Gov. Tom Corbett says a decision on the bid from British-based Camelot Global Services PA LLC could come as soon as this evening.

"We're moving forward -- we'll make a final decision later today or tomorrow at the latest," Mr. Corbett told reporters after touring a CareerLink employment center here.

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.

AFSCME Council 13, which represents about 170 of the 230 state lottery workers, offered a counter-proposal, which was rejected. The labor group says Camelot's proposal would provide less funding for seniors programs and too little security against missing its profit margins.

State senators held a hearing Monday on the private-management proposal, at which officials from AFSCME, Camelot and the Corbett administration all testified. A House committee has two hearings scheduled next week.

House Democrats reiterated their concerns about the management plan during a news conference this morning, where they questioned why an outside firm is needed, how Camelot's proposal could impact casino revenues, and what the eventual effects could be on programs for seniors.

"We still don't have all the answers," House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont said. "Important details about this process were only made public in the last few days."

Asked about the disgruntled response from lawmakers who say they were not kept up-to-speed on the lottery procurement process, Mr. Corbett responded that "some people have short-term memory."

He pointed to more than 100 meetings with lawmakers and two legislative hearings -- including one in April, immediately after the administration announced it was beginning to look into hiring a private firm -- as evidence of its public efforts.

"So what you're saying is the Legislature has the right to say they like this bid or they don't? That's not the way it works," Mr. Corbett said. "Any bids ... sale or purchase of cars, good and services, and that's what this is -- it's a service."

After the administration signs a contract with Camelot, it will go to Attorney General Kathleen Kane for legal review. The Legislature is not required to approve the contract, though some lawmakers have argued that adding keno games requires their authorization.

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


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