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Politics & Government

Treasurer Questions Legality of Lottery Bid

The latest Democrat to voice concerns about the potential privatization of the Pennsylvania Lottery is the one guy who could keep the money from flowing.

State Treasurer Rob McCord said today that he may not play along with any contract that hands over the operation of the Lottery to a company that promises to expand gambling. He included his concerns in a letter to the secretary of the state Department of Revenue, which oversees the Lottery.

Adding games to the Lottery’s repertoire is believed to be a surefire way to boost profits – a key term of the agreement currently under review by the state and Camelot Global Services, the Britain-based private company that is the sole bidder on the Lottery’s operations.

But the treasurer’s spokesman, Gary Tuma said it’s not clear the Corbett administration is allowed to unilaterally authorize any private group to add more games to the Lottery’s repertoire.

“The contracting process could be used as a justification process for the expansion of gambling that is more properly the authority of the Legislature,” said Tuma. He added the approval of the Gaming Control Board may be needed for certain gaming expansions.

“Treasurer McCord is concerned that he may not be legally able to pay that private managing company under his responsibility to ensure that all disbursement of public money is done in accordance with the law,” said Tuma.

If the Lottery’s operations are leased to a private company, all the money necessary to keep the lottery going would still have to come from the commonwealth.

But Elizabeth Brassell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue says state law is pretty broad when it comes to how the commonwealth should explore expanding the lottery to include things like keno drawings and online games (such games would not include poker).