Union expected to offer proposal to run Pennsylvania lottery

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HARRISBURG -- The labor group representing most of the state lottery's 230 employees is expected today to release its counter-plan to a lucrative proposal from an outside firm seeking to oversee Pennsylvania's scratch tickets and jackpot games.

A representative for AFSCME Council 13 declined Monday to offer any details of that proposal, which the labor group is due to hand in to Gov. Tom Corbett's administration today.

The union is allowed under state law to offer an alternative plan to the bid submitted by Camelot Global Services PA LLC, which was the sole company to present a lottery management proposal after a seven-month search.

State officials could award a management contract as soon as Thursday, though another extension of that consideration period is anticipated to allow for a legislative hearing scheduled for Monday.

As the union was crafting its alternative plan to the Camelot bid pledging $34 billion in lottery profits over the next two decades, the Britain-based firm offered its first public comments to combat skepticism from some Democrats about handing the reins of the state lottery over to an outside company.

In an interview, Camelot managing director Alex Kovich said his company believes the state currently has a good lottery, but that it sees potential for expansion through a revised approach that encourages a wider demographic of Pennsylvanians to play.

"We think it's a consumer good and should be treated like a consumer good," Mr. Kovich said. "It's about the widest participation that you can get in a responsible manner."

He cited an award Camelot received from the World Lottery Association, and its positions with that group and the European Lotteries Association, as examples of its commitment to responsible gambling.

As for why Pennsylvania should hire an outside firm, Mr. Kovich argued that a private company has more freedom to make long-term investments and try new strategies than a government agency. He also pointed to Camelot's experience running the United Kingdom lottery for 18 years.

"We have fantastic experience and best practices that we can bring to the commonwealth," he said.

David Fillman, executive director of AFSCME Council 13, which has sued to prevent officials from awarding a private management contract, said last month that the state has 40 years of experience running a lottery with public employees.

"We're going to parachute in a company from the UK?" Mr. Fillman asked.

"We think that learning curve is in our favor."

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Harrisburg bureau chief Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 1-717-787-4254.


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