It's time to put the cards on the table
The Pennsylvania Lottery reported Thursday that it had achieved record sales and profits even as Gov. Tom Corbett continued his quest to turn over lottery management to a British company.
Details of the report alone do not necessarily invalidate the governor's proposal. Lottery sales for the fiscal year that ended June 30 soared by 6 percent over the previous fiscal year, to $3.7 billion, an increase of $219 million.
But the profit that the lottery derived from those sales increased by just $6.5 million, less than 1 percent. The lottery's profit margin actually decreased from just over 30 percent of sales to just under 28 percent. Lottery officials said costs associated with increased sales rose by $200 million, about 8 percent.
Mr. Corbett wants to turn over lottery management to a division of Camelot Global Services, the British company that operates the national lottery of the United Kingdom, under a contract that would be at least 20 years and as many as 30 years. He contends that stability and guaranteed returns warrant the transition to private management.
But the governor has not explained away the fundamental problems that have stalled the proposal. The company's deadline for a decision has been moved several times and is now July 31.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who must review state contracts, already has rejected the original proposal as being unconstitutional and illegal, and has said she will do so again if the governor's reworked proposal mirrors the original.
The issue also has highlighted the governor's inability to win support for his major initiatives even from fellow Republicans who hold majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
Republican leaders rightly contend that the contract, a major piece of state policy, should not proceed without extensive legislative review. And even with such review, 20-to-30 years is too long for almost any state contract.
House lawmakers briefly considered and rejected a proposal in June, which the administration had submitted to help facilitate the deal.
Camelot has proposed expanding the lottery, which by itself should receive legislative approval in a state already awash in gambling. Neither the company nor Mr. Corbett has described that proposed expansion, but it likely would be in the form of daily keno games.
Meanwhile, state Treasurer Rob McCord rightly has said that he won't approve state payments to Camelot unless the company and the governor show that its expansion plan is legal.
Further still, there is no evidence that the company can do anything that the state-run lottery can't do.
Unless the governor is willing to turn over all of those cards for public scrutiny, it's time to fold.