By Robert Kittle
A new bill at the Statehouse would have the state hire a private company to run the South Carolina Education Lottery, which its sponsor says would mean more money for education.
Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, introduced the bill, saying a private company could run the games more efficiently so the games would produce even more money for scholarships.
Right now, only two states, Illinois and Indiana, have privately-run state lotteries. Pennsylvania just signed a contract to privatize its games and New Jersey is looking into the possibility.
Illinois did see record lottery revenues in fiscal 2012 with double-digit growth, but the private firm that was hired, Northstar Lottery Group, fell short of its promised increase. The last year the state ran the lottery, it brought in $690 million. Under the private company, it brought in $726 million, but Northstar had projected revenue of $825 million.
Rep. Sellers says, "That happens, but we will have that transparency and accountability because we're not getting rid of our commission. We will still make sure that there is somebody there that is accountable. It's not going to be some private company run amok."
So how would there be more money for scholarships if a private company would also be taking a profit out of the money the lottery generates? Sellers says that profit motive would force the private company to be more efficient and run the games with lower administrative costs, as well as try new games and find ways to get more people to play the lottery.
Lottery player Mel Bigsbee of Columbia says, "I think that privatizing a lot of things would probably run a little better. Get the government uninvolved, there's a little more money for everybody."