DN Editorial: PA. TRIPLE PLAY

One agency should regulate lottery, casinos and racing

Posted: January 24, 2013

STATE lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are miffed at Gov. Corbett for contracting with a British firm to privately manage the state lottery. So are we, but not for the same reasons.

Some lawmakers gripe that Corbett pulled a stealth move that will be bad for the state: the contract had only a single bidder, the aptly named Camelot. Budget experts say that the potential return doesn't justify the move, especially since the state seems to be running the lottery well enough to reach record-setting revenues - now $1 billion a year.

Corbett says the contract will maximize the state's lottery profits, which go directly to serving senior citizens. But experts at the Keystone Research Center say that over the 20-year period of the contract, the promised growth rate is 3 percent, the rate of inflation over the past 20 years and a smaller growth rate than the current system. Keystone calls the contract low risk and high profit for Camelot.

Camelot apparently has plans to expand the lottery to keno games and online ticket sales, and some lawmakers claim this constitutes an expansion of gambling and will undercut casino revenues.

The arguments are compelling. But we think there's a bigger question to answer: Why aren't the lottery and the state's gaming efforts managed under a single entity?

The state's reliance on gambling has been evolving over the past few decades. The lottery was created in 1971 and is overseen by the Lottery Commission. The Pennsylvania Racing Commission oversees harness and horse racing. The state Gaming Control Board, created by the 2004 gaming act, oversees and regulates slots and table games.

With the state's coffers swollen with the proceeds from all these gambling enterprises, it's time to consider putting the lottery, racing and casinos under a single regulatory and oversight entity. That might ensure that they don't cannibalize each other, and it would force more consistent policies on how they're managed. Other states, like Maryland, which recently introduced casinos, have a single oversight agency. Corbett has dealt the state a bad hand on the lottery deal, but it's not too late to fix it.

BRASSY KNOLL?

A COLD DAY, a presidential motorcade, a notorious incident and a coverup. Perhaps Oliver Stone will one day get to the truth of the sinister conspiracy surrounding the "singing" of the National Anthem at the inauguration of President Obama.

Did Beyonce lip-synch? Was it so chilly, she went Milli Vanilli?

In the hours after the event, a spokesman for the accompanying Marine Corps band said the musicians got word that "Beyonce was going to use a prerecorded vocal track." Then, the next day, they backpedaled.

Specialists are analyzing the audio, trying to determine the direction of the vocals. Some say they came from a nearby grassy knoll, where a second vocalist, perhaps Alicia Keys, was spotted.

Taxpayers should note: Beyonce was not paid. Otherwise we might have gone over the fiscal cliff.

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