So after a month of waiting, the Illinois Lottery -- so eager to run a transparent bidding process for its private management contract -- has finally come clean on one matter anyway. As we have been stating for the past month, there are indeed only two finalists for the private management contract: the Northstar Lottery Group whose principals include Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago; and the Camelot Group, which operates the United Kingdom Lottery.
Representatives from the two entities left in the running are scheduled to appear at a public hearing in the James R. Thompson State of Illinois Building, Room 9-040 on the 9th floor, on Wednesday morning, Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. The two groups will answer questions from the public about what the they intend to do. Of course, the hearing is likely to be a fairly pointless exercise since the Lottery has been exceedingly tight-lipped to date about the so-called transparent bid process or what they want from a new private manager of the Lottery.
Obviously, Camelot opted not to drop out of the competition last week, as some sources had suspected it might. Camelot's decision to stay in, we're told, may have had a lot to do with the Lottery's decision at the last minute to make a lot more information available to Camelot that presumably could help it tailor its bid to the state's and the Lottery's satisfaction.
At the very least, the Lottery's generosity of information made it seem every effort was being made to sustain the appearance that Camelot is a real and viable contender for the Illinois Lottery private management contract. Intralot, you may recall, had no such luck. It was immediately dropped from contention after it came before the Lottery evaluation committee in early August. Another contender, Your Lottery Group, opted not to submit a bid at the last minute because it found the terms in an early version of the private management agreement to be excessively and unrealistically onerous.
So as most observers have suspected for weeks, all fingers look to be pointing toward Northstar Lottery Group as the victor in the private management contract bid process. If that is what indeed comes to pass, it would leave entities that already comprise a major Illinois Lottery vendor group with a contract to manage themselves. An interesting arrangement, to say the least.
At a press conference unrelated to the Lottery in early August, Gov. Pat Quinn said he would give this whole Lottery private management bid process a close look when it reached his desk in September. Quinn is in a tough race for re-election. He owes it to himself and the people of Illinois to indeed take a close look at what is coming down here. Plenty of people who have been watching closely for the past several weeks think there is plenty of reason to question the way this bid process has gone -- and how it looks to be coming to a conclusion.
Quinn is supposed to make a decision on or before Sept. 15. Two weeks to go, and counting.