The plot continues to thicken as we get closer to a decision on a private management firm for the Illinois Lottery. Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to select a winning bidder for the management contract on or before Sept. 15.
At a press conference on Sunday called to sign into law a new property tax relief bill for Illinois residents, we asked Quinn about the process that has been set up to decide who will manage the Lottery and whether he was concerned it could lead to a situation where the Lottery continues to be run pretty much as it has been run until now. We pointed out to Quinn that one of the bidders for the management contract is a newly-formed entity called Northstar Lottery Group, comprised of Gtech Corp., Scientific Games Corp. and Energy BBDO/Chicago. Gtech currently provides technology to the Illinois Lottery, while Scientific Games provides the games themselves to the Lottery and Energy BBDO handles Lottery advertising. Quinn ducked the question we asked and said he would give the whole thing a close look when it hit his desk.
We subsequently submitted in writing via Quinn's press office three questions pertaining to the private management contract bid process, including one that pretty much reiterated the question we posed to him at the press conference Sunday. We got back a two-sentence answer that said: "We are confident that this has been and will continue to be an open and transparent process, which has included extensive outreach for potential bidders. The goal is to select a vendor that will help generate more revenue for the state at a time when we desperately need it."
But, in point of fact, not everything has been totally transparent at every step in the bid process so far. For instance, the names of all the entities who submitted bids by the July 30 deadline are being kept under wraps until Aug. 12. Plus, the names of a committee of people who will make a final recommendation to Quinn about what bidder should get the management contract are being withheld until after Quinn makes his decision on or before Sept. 15.
Several days ago, we asked a Lottery spokesman if keeping the committee member names secret was spelled out in the rules of the bid process or if that was an arbitrary decision made by someone at the Lottery or in state government. We have yet to get an answer.