Safe bet: Corbett lets a bad deal on the state lottery die

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Now that the Corbett administration has scrapped the questionable deal it made for a British firm to run the Pennsylvania Lottery, the state has a chance to improve the odds for success without overplaying its hand.

Early this year, the administration made a 20-year private management agreement with Camelot Global Services, hoping that the firm could bring in more than $34 billion in profits, in part by introducing online ticket sales and the game keno. In February, though, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane halted its implementation, saying — correctly in our view — that the deal amounted to an illegal expansion of legalized gambling.

After several extensions, the administration and Camelot on Monday announced that the bid will be allowed to expire. Now Pennsylvania has several options for getting this right.

It can pursue privatization again. We have no objection to the state hiring a for-profit firm to run the lottery but, like Ms. Kane, we don’t think it should incorporate a broad expansion of gambling without a public debate and the consent of the Legislature.

The other option is for Pennsylvania to devise ways to bring in more revenue from lottery games to benefit senior citizens, again without online gaming or other intrusive means.

The state already expanded legalized gambling once this year by allowing taverns to offer raffles, daily drawings and other games that had been off limits for them but possible at fraternal and social clubs. When it comes to gambling, it’s easy to make a bad bet.


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