Pennsylvania lawmakers have had their first chance to grill the Corbett administration over a deal to privatize the operations of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Going in to the Monday hearing, lawmakers and Corbett Cabinet members figured things would be tense at the Senate hearing.
Some senators were still upset at the administration’s announcement Friday that it would go ahead and finalize a contract to turn Lottery operations over to Camelot Global Services, based in Britain.
Sen. Pat Vance, who attributed the unease to what she called a “lack of transparency,” saying she’s suspicious of any agreement where only one company makes a bid.
“I think some of these questions come about because of the lack of transparency. It’s very difficult to know what’s in a contract,” said Vance, R-Cumberland. “Is it going to be made public?”
Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration says it has been transparent in pursuing a privatization deal, citing things such as meetings with more than 150 state lawmakers.
Those meetings have been private.
Sen. Rob Teplitz attempted to separate two issues that have so far been intertwined in explanations from the Corbett administration — privatizing Lottery operations and expanding Lottery games.
“Isn’t it true that the administration does not need to sign this or any other agreement with an outside contractor in order to expand the Lottery into keno and online ticket sales?” said Teplitz, D-Dauphin.
“We believe that’s true,” answered Pete Tartline of the governor’s budget office.
The budget office has found even if the current public management of the Lottery were able to expand games, it would not raise as much in annual profits as Camelot is promising, Tartline said.
A union representing Lottery employees, which has requested a chance to take over the Lottery operation rather than Camelot, disputes that.
Two bidders other than Camelot dropped out of the process — Tatts Group, an Australian company, and GTECH, based in Rhode Island.