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Lottery and Liquor Might Mix to Boost State Revenue

Pennsylvania's revenue watchers say putting lottery ticket sales in state liquor stores would be a boon. But not all lawmakers are keen on the idea.

Profits from the Pennsylvania Lottery have held pretty steady over the past few years, according to the Revenue Department, and many believe that number can grow, which would add more money to the state's coffers. One key to boosting those sales is to increase the number of retailers.

The first place the Revenue bean counters are looking to is the state-run liquor stores.

Senate Appropriations Committee majority chairman Jake Corman said he does not like the fact that such a move would force privately-owned stores to compete with state stores for lottery ticket sales.

"I'm not for putting those in a government-run monopoly. I think that would be unfair to private enterprise that's out there working hard to meet a payroll," said Corman.

The revenue office estimates the first year of selling lottery tickets in state liquor stores could net up to $20 million dollars, depending on where and how the tickets are sold.

Thirty percent of lottery revenue goes into programs aimed at helping older Pennsylvanians.

Other Revenue Growth Options

Educating Pennsylvanians about reporting online purchases and paying sales taxes on them is a work in progress.

"It's based upon what their income is and what we've determined through various analysis, what would be typical at those income levels. Certainly at $25,000 it might be, I don't know remember exactly, $100 in purchases, so therefore it would be a $6 use tax," said Secretary State Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser.

Senators are skeptical that many people will file the tax at all, despite the Corbett administration's announcement that those who don't voluntarily pay the tax may be audited. Meuser said the commonwealth's tax returns would include a suggested amount of online sales tax to pay.