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Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011, 2:13 p.m.

Gregoire looking at privatizing state lottery

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire said Thursday she is exploring whether to privatize the state's lottery and highlighted other ways that the government is outsourcing duties.
Gregoire said the privatization could generate savings and potentially new revenue for the state, so she wants the lottery to solicit proposals from the private sector to determine whether such a shift is feasible. The state would still maintain an oversight role.
"If it can be done better and produce more revenue, then we should absolutely move forward," Gregoire said. She also said the government shouldn't be in the business of gambling.
The lottery brought in $523 million in revenue in the last fiscal year, with most of that money going back out for prizes, commissions and administration. About $150 million went to state education, economic development and other programs.
Some 140 people work for the lottery.
Gregoire said the state is also going to put up other state work for private bidding, including bulk printing, website development and some government mail services. She separately proposed the elimination of the three-person Liquor Control Board and suggested the use of a director to oversee licensing and enforcement.
Washington voters resoundingly approved the privatization of the state's liquor sales and distribution last month. That new system is expected to bring in more money for state and local governments.
Gregoire's privatization discussion came just a few hours before her appearance in Seattle at the annual meeting of business group Washington Roundtable.

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