Another day, another round of excitement as the moment nears when Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to name the winning bidder for a private management contract to run the Illinois Lottery. Quinn is expected to announce a winner on or before Sept. 15. Sources report that at least two of the entities that are believed to have submitted bids have already met with the evaluation committee that will make a recommendation to Quinn about who should get the management contract. We can't say for certain how many bidders are involved in the process because the state is keeping that information under wraps until Aug. 12.
But answers to questions about the evaluation committee, its make-up and how it came to be formed remain vague or unknown, despite claims from the state that this closely-watched management contract bid process is being conducted free of taint and in transparent fashion. A lottery spokesman said this morning that he has not seen the names of the persons who comprise the evaluation committee. When asked who decides the make-up of this committee, the spokesman said he did not know, but would get back to us. So far he has not. But he assured us everything was being handled according to state rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, many observers continue to believe the recently-created Northstar Lottery Group has carefully amassed its forces to ensure it can win the management contract for the Lottery. Two of Northstar's principals, Gtech and Scientific Games, already supply the technology and the the games to the Illinois Lottery. A third party called Igor, an Illinois firm that distributes Lottery tickets around the state and services Lottery equipment, is said to be part of the Northstar bid too, according to sources.
Another party believed to be attached to the Northstar bid is well-known Chicago attorney Manny Sanchez, who sources said has done considerable political fundraising. A spokeswoman for the Northstar Lottery Group would not comment on Sanchez or confirm what involvement, if any, he might have with the Northstar bid. Sanchez, founder of the local law firm Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.