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Mass. Treasurer Wants To Privatize State Lottery

Massachusetts Treasurer Timothy Cahill said Wednesday the state should think about licensing not only slot machine parlors but also the state lottery to help ease its cash crunch.

The treasurer estimated the government could reap $1 billion immediately from a private entity interested in a 50-year license to run the lottery, as well as another $900 million annually under a revenue-sharing arrangement.

Massachusetts currently faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit that could grow still, as well as $3.5 billion in projected spending cuts for the 2010 budget.

Cahill told members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce he would use the lottery license and revenue-sharing money - plus $2 billion to $3 billion more from licensing and taxing the slot machines - to replenish the state's rainy-day fund, cover unfunded state retiree debt and provide a nearly $1 billion endowment for the University of Massachusetts.

The treasurer said the lottery's revenue would fall 3 percent to 8 percent annually if gambling was expanded in Massachusetts. While the lottery has been one of the most successful in the world in terms of cost efficiency and costs to payouts, it has seen a drop in activity as both the state and national economies have moved into recession.

"A different environment such as the one we are in today forces us to think and act differently," he told the chamber.

This program aired on March 4, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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