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Poll: Pa. voters oppose lottery's privatization

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 11:57 p.m.

Handing control of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private British firm did not win much support from voters in a Franklin & Marshall College poll released on Thursday.

Sixty-four percent of registered voters surveyed in the poll said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose relinquishing management of the state-run system to Camelot Global Services, and an overwhelming majority said the state Legislature should have the opportunity to accept or reject the privatization plan that Gov. Tom Corbett engineered.

“I think what (voters) are doing is raising the concern they have about a British company doing this,” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political analyst at Franklin & Marshall. “Clearly, they want some checks and balances here. They view this as big enough of a decision that it should be decided with the Legislature.”

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. Poll takers interviewed 622 registered voters in Pennsylvania between Jan. 29 and Feb. 3.

Eric Shirk, a spokesman for Corbett, said the administration kept legislators informed about the privatization plan since it began examining it in April. Corbett, a Republican, has said he has the authority to authorize the contract with Camelot without approval from the Legislature, which Republicans control.

Lawmakers in both parties say the state needs legislative approval to expand lottery game offerings through online gambling and games such as keno, a bingo-style lotto played in bars, taverns and restaurants.

Democrats urged state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, to reject the deal during a 30-day review period that began when Corbett signed the agreement on Jan. 17.

“The governor doesn't govern based on polls,” Shirk said. “This is about securing funding in the long run for senior citizens.”

Camelot promised the state $34 billion over 20 years. The money supports senior citizen programs. The privatization comes with an added $50 million for senior programs in the 2013-14 budget, Shirk said.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

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