Not yet a winner: AG says gambling expansion is illegal

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State Attorney General Kathleen Kane made the right call by halting a 20-year private management agreement for the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The announcement was a setback for the Corbett administration, which last month signed a contract with British lottery operator Camelot Global Services PA LLC, but her decision doesn't necessarily mean the state never can outsource the lottery's day-to-day operations. We have no quarrel with that.

The most troubling aspect of this deal is that it would have allowed Camelot to develop online sales and electronic games such as keno under the purview of the lottery. Ms. Kane concluded the contract was illegal, in part, because those options are not authorized under the state's gaming law.

Mr. Corbett argues that offering those new choices is no different from the state's decision to start selling multistate Powerball tickets. We think the prospect of allowing players to gamble anywhere they have an Internet connection, plus a proliferation of electronic games in bars and restaurants, represent a significant expansion of what is legal gambling in Pennsylvania. Going in that direction is a change that first should be vetted and approved by the state Legislature, just as occurred when slot machine casinos and table games were legalized.

The state may well sign a contract for outside management of the lottery sometime in the future, but if it wants to expand legal gambling, that's a matter for the Legislature.

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