Treasurer Cahill floated the notion of privatizing the lottery yesterday and today. Several legislators were quick to dismiss it out of hand, which I believe is a mistake.
The skeptics seemed locked into the notion that a long-term lease of the lottery requires a large, upfront payment.
While the lottery provides a vital flow of funds to cities and towns, it clearly reaching the limits of its market, given the erratic nature of revenues over the past few years and the potential competition that slots/casinos/whatever might provide.
Would it be possible to have a serious conversation about what a long-term lease might look like and what the state would prioritize in an RFP?
Would a potential bidder guarantee a predictable flow of funds, indexed to the CPI over the term of the lease? They would insulate the state from fluctuations in the lottery take while giving cities and towns long-term certainty for at least a chunk of local aid.
I’m not sure such a bidder exists, but it might make sense to have the market answer that, rather than just end the conversation.