Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett once again finds himself days away from having to make a decision about what to do about his plan to privatizing the management of Pennsylvania Lottery.
The latest extension of a bid from United Kingdom-based Camelot Global Services, the only company to submit a bid to do this work, expires on Friday. It is the ninth extension to the bid's expiration date originally set to expire Dec. 31.
As of Wednesday morning, there was still no decision to accept it, reject it or seek a 10th extension, according to Elizabeth Brassell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery.
A Camelot spokeswoman said the company has no comment at this time.
In its bid, Camelot promised to generate $34.6 billion in profits over the next 20 years. The Corbett Administration has said that is $3 billion to $4.5 billion more than the lottery would produce by keeping its management in-house.
But state Attorney General Kathleen Kane raised constitutional and legal challenges to the administration's ability to proceed with outsourcing the lottery's management and rejected the contract. Since then, the administration has been working on trying to figure out how to address Kane's concerns to allow the outsourcing to proceed.
Opponents of the outsourcing have challenged the need to bring in an outside manager after seeing that the lottery last year broke sales and profit records that were set the year before. They also point out polls show voters consider this a low priority for state government.
Meanwhile, speculation is growing that Corbett may be developing a plan to abandon the privatization and proceed with trying to boost lottery profits by allowing the in-house lottery operation to add Keno to its portfolio.
Increasing profits as well as assurances of sustaining those higher profit levels was the appeal to Corbett for outsourcing the lottery's management. Camelot's plan, which included adding Keno, came with a $200 million security fund that the state could dip into if profits came in below the company-set profit targets.
Corbett saw that as a way to ensure funding would be there to continue providing lottery-funded services to the state's growing senior citizen population. Those services include prescription assistance, property tax/rent rebates, transportation services, funding for senior centers and nursing home care.
Administration officials adamantly deny that any decision about the lottery outsourcing has been made at this point, although they acknowledge discussions are ongoing.
Some of those talks took place at a private meeting last week that involved Corbett, some of his staff, a lottery representative as well as representatives from the lottery's contracted New York-based partner, Scientific Games International.
House and Senate Republican legislative leadership sources confirm that it is their understanding that the lottery privatization continues to be a topic of discussion and has not been ruled on or off the table.
But Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny County, has heard the speculation that the administration is going to walk away from the outsourcing idea, something that his caucus has been advocating since Camelot's bid was originally received back in November.
"If it's true, we think it's an appropriate position," Costa said. "It's the right thing to do."