Hearing will reveal details about Lottery privatization
A Senate committee hearing scheduled for later this month could provide the first opportunity for an in-depth public review of the Corbett administration's plan to privatize management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
The Finance Committee plans to meet Jan. 14 to "fully vet the impact of privatizing this massive enterprise," said panel chairman Michael Brubaker, R-36, Ephrata. Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald, will play a role in that hearing as the panel's newly named minority chairman.
Brubaker anticipates testimony about the potential impact of privatization on Lottery revenues and the nearly 200 Lottery employees.
The Senate hearing looms at a tricky time in a bidding process by the Revenue Department to find a private firm to run the Lottery, which provides a range of benefits to senior citizens.
On New Year's Eve, the department announced a 10-day extension on a bid by Camelot Global Services, the firm that runs the British lottery, to manage the Lottery for 20 years and produce more than $34 billion in profits during that period.
The extension of Camelot's bid expiration date will allow time for a union representing Lottery employees to submit a counter-bid, the department said. It will also allow additional time for Kroll Advisory Solutions, a risk mitigation firm, to submit a report to the department on Camelot's suitability as a potential manager.
"Although the new deadline has been set for Jan. 10, I have been informed through conversations with the governor's office that a second extension is anticipated in the days that follow," said Brubaker.
Blake has plunged into the issue since being appointed finance minority chairman by caucus leaders late last month. He has been arranging meetings with Revenue Secretary Daniel Meuser, Aging Secretary Brian Duke and officials of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.
"I'm concerned about the pace at which this is moving," said Blake. "I really think it is imperative for us to be more deliberative."
Blake said he wants more information about the future of Lottery employees, expansion of Lottery games to include keno and online games, and impact on other types of legalized gambling if privatization occurs. He is seeking assurances about the long-term sustainability of Lottery benefits.
"What happens if things go south?" he asked.
(Swift is Harrisburg bureau chief for Times-Shamrock Communications newspapers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)