Better late than never, Gov. Corbett's sugarplum visions of a privately managed Pennsylvania Lottery look like they're in line for some much-needed public scrutiny - and maybe a reality check.
The proposed agreement to have sole-bidder Camelot Global Services PA L.L.C. run the already hugely profitable lottery - with a pledge from the British firm to leapfrog the state's returns over the next 20 years - was developed largely behind the scenes by Corbett aides.
But before the state gambles on privatizing a service that provides $1 billion annually for programs benefiting elderly Pennsylvanians, officials need to be certain that the move is a much better bet than any scratch-off lottery ticket.
So it's good news that the governor has relented on his stance that the deal with Camelot could go ahead without any legislative oversight. While not saying state lawmakers had veto rights, Corbett officials last week said they welcomed the chance to answer questions about the deal.
The forum for that review likely will be a Jan. 14 hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, whose ranking Democrat, Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.), contends that the Camelot "numbers don't add up."
Under private management, Corbett envisions boosting lottery sales and profits by making tickets available online, and also implementing new keno games. An unstated assumption is that a private operation would run with a leaner staff.
Corbett's understandable push for more revenue is being driven by the expected growth of the state's senior population as boomers age into retirement. The state's lottery proceeds fund senior centers and social services, discounted prescription drugs, transit rides, and property tax and rent rebates.
Yet it remains unclear why the proposed lottery expansion couldn't be achieved to a great extent without blowing up the Lottery Commission, an agency generally considered well-run.
On that issue, the union representing the bulk of the lottery's 230 employees should have more to say soon. Corbett has given AFSCME Council 13 until next week to offer alternatives to his plan.
Any breathing space created by the Senate hearing also lets policymakers reconsider whether it's even wise for Harrisburg to expand its lottery offerings.
Growing lottery sales could squeeze the state's take from slot machines and table games at the casinos. And boosting the lottery to aid seniors could mean hardship for retirees struggling with their own gambling problems.