HERSHEY — Pennsylvania will become only the third state to let a private company run its lottery system.
That company is based across the pond, in Great Britain.
Governor Tom Corbett explained why he went ahead with the deal Thursday in Hershey.
For about 40 years the state has run the Pennsylvania Lottery and it has made billions of dollars.
In the future, that will not be enough according to Governor Corbett.
Corbett has given the go-ahead to hire a foreign company to run the lottery in order to increase profits.
At Smoker’s Express in Selinsgrove, the lottery machine rarely gets a break.
Players cash-in scratch-offs and buy Cash-5 tickets hoping to strike it rich.
All the billions of dollars that go to the lottery and ultimately programs for older Pennsylvanians, is apparently not enough for Governor Tom Corbett, who is placing his chips on a British company to make the PA Lottery even more profitable.
“2.7 million people, seniors, whose securities and futures will be strengthened by the improvements we’re making to the lottery, that’s what this is about,” said Corbett.
At a senior center in Hershey, the governor said the 20-year deal with Camelot Global Services holds the UK company to provide at least $35 billion in profit.
Corbett said it should be enough to pay for programs that help the ever-growing population of senior citizens in PA.
“If we do not grow this lottery we will have to shrink the services it provides,” added Corbett.
The governor’s move to privatize the lottery has been met with criticism from some lawmakers and people who work for the lottery.
They claim Corbett doesn’t have to go with the British company in order to expand the lottery.
Nevertheless, some advocates for seniors believe an increase in lottery revenue will help offset recent budget cuts to programs.
“We’ve seen senior centers that’d been eliminated, 10 percent of them closed across the state,” said Crystal Lowe of the PA Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Lottery players we spoke with are not necessarily sold on the idea of a British company getting a cut of the money played in the lottery.
“We’re not really happy about that. We want to it stay in the United States,” said Tom Henninger of Shamokin Dam. “I don’t know if it’s going to change anything, but we want it to stay in the United States.”
The state plans to keep about 70 employees with the lottery.
Camelot, the company that will oversee the lottery, is expected to offer jobs to the rest of the state workers.
The contract only needs legal approval from Attorney General Kathleen Kane to become official.