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Illinois Lottery private management bid process: Camelot mulls its options

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Another week is drawing to a close in the drama-filled Illinois Lottery private management contract bidding process. Everyone in the Illinois Lottery and Gov. Pat Quinn's office is doing their best to make sure this whole process remains as far under the radar as possible. The less visible and transparent the whole process is, of course, the less chance there is that somebody will let something slip that wasn't supposed to slip. And nobody wants that kind of mess before Gov. Pat Quinn must decide on Sept. 15 what entity will get the private management contract.

In any event, as we move into the weekend, sources report that the United Kingdom-based Camelot Group, believed to be one of only two bidders left in the running for the Illinois Lottery private management contract, may finally be wising up to the fact its chances of getting the contract are next to nil -- at least as things now stand. At least one source told us that Camelot even went so far as to suggest to Illinois Lottery officials that it might seriously consider dropping out of the bidding process if some adjustments weren't immediately made in the private management agreement (PMA) that sets out the parameters under which the private manager will operate the Illinois Lottery.

As astounding as it would be if true, that source also said Lottery officials subsequently told Camelot that the bidding process was far enough along that the contract could still legitimately be awarded to the Northstar Lottery Group (the only other entity believed to still be in the running for the contract) whether or not Camelot stays in the game. Some believe the Lottery's hardball response could have been an attempt to call Camelot's bluff.

Still that response from Lottery officials, if accurate, is interesting because the rules for the bidding process, we're told, specifically require there to be a minimum of two contending bidders. Whatever Lottery representatives may or may not have told Camelot, the ball is definitely in Camelot's court. Camelot must now decide whether it's in the group's best interests to see this bid process through to its -- quite possibly-- predetermined end.

Even as Camelot appeared to be mulling its options in regards to the Illinois Lottery, the London newspaper the Daily Mail treated its readers on Thursday to a lengthy story about the company and its fearless and steely leader Dianne Thompson, who is all of five feet tall. Among other things, Thompson told Daily Mail reporter Rupert Steiner that winning the Illinois Lottery private management contract could be the first of six lottery management contracts beyond the United Kingdom that Camelot hopes to pick up within the next 10 years. If only it were that easy.

Meanwhile, the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Intralot (dropped from contention for the private management contract) has been denied. But sources say Intralot has lodged a protest. No indication yet whether that will do much good. Intralot had sought information about how it was scored by the evaluation committee that interviewed bidders for the Illinois private management contract during the first week of August.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page contains a single entry by Lewis Lazare published on August 20, 2010 4:37 PM.

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