Pa. Lottery talks said to be slowed by challenges
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Concerns about legal and other challenges have complicated the British national lottery operator's efforts to take over the management of the Pennsylvania Lottery, according to a top adviser to Gov. Tom Corbett.
Negotiations were to continue Friday. State Revenue Secretary Daniel Meuser told The Associated Press on Thursday night that Camelot Global Services wants assurances that it will not be penalized if state employees' opposition prevents it from achieving its profit projections.
"Profit and loss is a serious concern," Meuser said. "They need a reasonable level of confidence that their proposal will be abided by. ... When they're facing a lot of unjustified flak, I'm sure it gives them pause."
Meuser and other administration officials remain supportive of Camelot's bid and are working toward reaching a "notice of award," a declaration of an intention to execute a final contract. If Corbett accepts the bid, Pennsylvania would become the third state, after Illinois and Indiana, to privatize its state lottery management.
The union representing state lottery employees, Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is suing to block an agreement with Camelot and also has filed a grievance and an unfair labor practice charge. The lawsuit challenges the governor's authority to award the contract to a private company and expand the scope of lottery gambling that is contemplated by Camelot.
In addition, Democratic lawmakers, state Treasurer Rob McCord, state Auditor General Jack Wagner and even some Republican lawmakers have raised questions about the deal.
On Monday, Meuser, Camelot executives and representatives of AFSCME and the AARP are expected to testify before the Senate Finance Committee.
Without an agreement before Monday, Camelot and Corbett administration officials may be unwilling to answer certain questions from senators.
For instance, the business plan Camelot submitted to the Corbett administration remains confidential. McCord and AFSCME contends that Camelot would increase lottery profits largely by an expansion of lottery gambling that they contend is not currently allowed by state law.
Meuser reiterated that the administration is pursuing an agreement with Camelot in an effort to ensure that the lottery produces the rising profits necessary to satisfy growing demand for state services for the elderly.
"After months and months of analysis only focused on what is best for the commonwealth, the team that the governor assembled ... feels that there's fact and there's fiction and if the facts are known, it's a proposal that is worth the very, very serious consideration that it's being given," Meuser said.
The 41-year-old Pennsylvania Lottery is one of the nation's largest. It recorded $3.5 billion in sales for the year that ended June 30 and contributed more than $1 billion in profits that went to benefit programs for the elderly, including transit, rent and property tax rebates, prescription drug assistance, senior centers and long-term care services.