Several York County senators are concerned a contract to privatize the lottery system will lead to expanded gambling that could hurt casinos.
Gov. Tom Corbett's administration came to an agreement on a 20- to 30-year contract with British lottery operator Camelot Global Services to manage the state-owned lottery. The attorney general's office is reviewing it.
Camelot has referenced plans to introduce online access to lottery games as well as allow keno outlets at up to 3,000 bars and restaurants. Keno is a number-picking game using a video monitor.
"That would turn every bar into a casino and every computer into a lottery terminal," said state Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin County, who said there's been a "lack of transparency" in the Camelot contract negotiations.
Corbett's office said it would be cautious about introducing any new games, and believes Camelot is "committed" to doing the same.
Casino expectations: Opponents are worried the gambling expansion could take away revenue from casinos, which in turn is used to help fund property tax reductions statewide. They are hoping to rewrite Camelot's contract to prohibit such expansion.
Teplitz, who has Hollywood Casino in his district, said "changing rules on them in the middle of the game" isn't fair to casinos who would not have thought they'd be competing for gambling dollars with bar-based keno.
"They entered into this business with certain expectations," Teplitz said.
State Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland County, said she believes casinos would most likely be impacted if gambling were expanded outside of casino walls.
Pennsylvania already has a "dubious distinction" of being the second-highest market for gambling revenue in the country, she said, considering that chronically playing the lottery can drive people to poverty.
Casinos paid for their licenses, she said, so anything that impacts that agreement should be scrutinized.
Regressive funding: State Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County, said the situation is a legal question of whether lottery expansion is outside the parameters of the casino contract stipulations.
Smucker said he's not necessarily opposed to a private company taking over a government operation, but "it comes down to the terms of the contract."
He is concerned, though, with what adding keno and online lottery would represent: raising a lot of revenue would mean a lot of Pennsylvanians would be losing money gambling.
"Gambling is a regressive way to raise funds," he said.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org