Unlike the troubled state-run liquor system, which has been ripe for privatization for years, the lottery has operated effectively for four decades and provided a windfall for state coffers. If it isn't broken, what is there to fix?
During the Rendell administration, the lottery expanded marketing and availability in retail outlets and boosted annual ticket sales to more than $3 billion.
If the governor does decide to move to privatization, the contract with a management company must protect the state from any potential financial shortfall.
Pennsylvania's lottery, the sixth-largest in the nation, is the only state lottery with proceeds dedicated solely to the needs of older residents, providing $21.5 billion for prescription drugs, transportation, long-term care, and other services.
A similar proposal to privatize New York's lottery in 2008 was dropped after backlash from senior citizens, who also benefit from some lottery proceeds there. In 2010, Illinois became the first state to contract with a private manager for its lottery in an effort to increase sales.
There will undoubtedly be a protest by Pennsylvania's 230 lottery agents and clerical workers, who would be affected by privatizing. Their concerns must be addressed.
The private sector can manage some businesses cheaper and better, and the lottery may be one of them, but the state shouldn't proceed with this gamble as if it knows it has the winning numbers.