Tuesday December 31,2013 : PENNSYLVANIA DUMPS CONTROVERSIAL LOTTERY DEAL WITH U.K. COMPANY (Update)
Governor backs off after fierce opposition.
Governor Tom Corbett's plan to privatise the management of the Pennsylvania state lottery through a deal with British lottery company Camelot has been abandoned following fierce political, lottery employee and state official opposition, the Reuters news agency reported Monday.
Over a year ago the state agreed a deal with Camelot Global Services LLC, a subsidiary of Britain's national lottery operator, Camelot Group plc, to guarantee $34.6 billion in payments to the state over 20 years to manage the Pennsylvania lottery.
However, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to ratify or approve the deal, and the governor was forced to repeatedly extend the timelines involved.
The Reuters report notes that Kane, a Democrat seen as a potential rival to Corbett for re-election next year, said the first-term governor had overstepped his authority and contravened the state constitution in signing the deal.
The last timeline extension on the contract expires today (Tuesday), and in a last-minute announcement Monday the governor revealed that the project is to be abandoned, leaving the operation and management of the state lottery in state hands.
"As we move forward, we will take what we've learned to make our successful lottery even better – expanding the player and retailer base, improving player loyalty, and implementing strategies that will grow our lottery, responsibly and efficiently," Corbett said in a statement.
Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said that privatisation was still an option but that there were no other bidders or specific plans.
"The need still exists to grow the lottery to provide a predictable and reliable revenue stream for those that benefit from it," Pagni said.
Pennsylvania's state lottery dedicates all of its proceeds to programs that benefit senior citizens – including property tax and rent rebates, reduced transportation costs and low-cost prescription drug programs.
A disappointed Camelot Global Managing Director Alex Kovach said in a statement:
"We remain on good terms with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are open to future possibilities."
The Reuters report suggests that Gov. Corbett may have a tough time after several failed initiatives when re-election comes around in 2014.
A Quinnipiac University poll this month found that his approval rating had fallen to 36 percent – his lowest since being elected in 2010 – with 53 percent of registered voters disapproving of his job performance.