What we said was rumored to be true last Monday about Energy BBDO/Chicago's involvement with the state's effort to select a private management firm for the lottery is indeed true. It was announced at noon today that Energy BBDO/Chicago, the current ad agency of record for the Illinois Lottery, has cast its fate with a newly-created bidder for the lottery private management contract called Northstar Lottery Group.
Northstar is a new entity formed by Gtech Corp. and Scientific Games Corp., both of which were initially expected to submit separate bids for the lottery private management contract. But sources say within the past few days Gtech and Scientific Games sealed a deal to submit a single bid with Gtech as the principal in the new Northstar entity, and Scientific Games a secondary partner. Sources also say that Your Lottery, a possible bidder that had DraftFCB/Chicago as its ad agency partner, now may not submit a bid by today's deadline of 4:30 p.m. It is unclear at this point whether Camelot Group and Intralot, both also expected to submit bids, will indeed do so. A lottery spokesman said the names of all bidders will not be released until Aug. 12.
Some suspect this newly-merged entity called Northstar is a thinly-veiled effort to ensure business continues as usual at the state lottery, since Gtech and Scientific Games already provide the technology and the games to the Illinois Lottery and Energy BBDO is already responsible for the advertising.
Gov. Pat Quinn is supposed to select a private management firm for the lottery on or before Sept. 15. He will select from among one or more bidders recommended to him by a committee of current lottery officials and outside executives. A lottery spokesman said the names of those committee members are not being made public at this time.
It remains to be seen whether this last-minute twist that has produced the Northstar bid will affect how Quinn views the situation and whether Northstar, should it win the contract, will in fact reflect the intent of the private management legislation passed by the Illinois state legislature. In any event, as we surmised, Energy BDDO/Chicago and its leader Tonise Paul apparently have thrown their hat in with the group the ad agency no doubt perceives to have the upper hand in the bid process.