Pennsylvania is the only state that commits its lottery’s revenue to create services that aid its elderly, but Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration is now looking to privatize Pennsylvania’s lottery system.
In the state lottery’s previous fiscal year, Pennsylvania made $3.5 billion in sales and roughly $1.1 billion of those funds were used to support programs for the one million elderly Pennsylvanians.
Bill Strayer, the State Waiver’s service coordinator for Centre County’s Office of Aging, said the Pennsylvania lottery provides funding for the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly — Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance organization for the elderly — and the Home Delivered Meals program for Centre County. He said the Home Delivered Meals program delivers hot and cold meals to the elderly throughout the week and checks on their general well being.
Christina Reese, the press secretary for Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging, wrote in an email that in Pennsylvania, there are nearly 2.7 million individuals ages 60 and older living in the commonwealth. By 2030, it is estimated that 3.6 million Pennsylvanians will be 60 and older, she wrote.
Despite the ever-growing population, Elizabeth Brassell, Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue spokesperson, said no immediate plans to change the lottery’s ticket price point would occur. Ideally, privatizing the lottery should grow sales and profit for convenience stores statewide, she said.
“The administration’s exploring [privatizing] because the population of older Pennsylvanians is growing dramatically, and lottery revenues have to grow to meet the increased need that it will put on the lottery fund,” Brassell said.
Bill Goffe, a Penn State economics professor, said most economists would agree that privatizing “generally helps firms provide better services and stay in business.”
Goffe said he personally doesn’t play the lottery but knows some people do “simply for the thrill of it.”
Barbara Thomas (sophomore-psychology) said though her grandparents aren’t in nursing homes, lottery funds may help those who are.
“If privatizing the lottery helps to increase funds for the elderly, then it would be a good thing,” she said.
Josh Wirtz , an assistant manager for McLanahan's Downtown Market , said though his store sells lottery tickets, he isn’t very knowledgeable of Pennsylvania’s proposition.
“I think privatizing the lottery is an absolutely good idea if it’s going to help small businesses,” he said.
By Dec. 31, the state government must make an official decision whether to incorporate this privatization or not.
Corbett has been communicating with Camelot Global Services, a private company that organizes the United Kingdom’s lottery, to do the deal.
Camelot has said it promises to bring in more than $34 billion in profits over the next 20 years if the contract between Pennsylvania and the UK-based company is accepted by the governor, helping to grow the lottery by 3 to 4 percent per year.
Pennsylvania wouldn’t be the first state to privatize the lottery. The first state to privatize its lottery system was Illinois. Indiana will have a private company take charge of its lottery in February 2013, while New Jersey remains in the consideration process.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.