It's week two of the big countdown to the selection of a private management firm to run the Illinois Lottery. We were out of the office Monday, but today, we learned that a lot of people behind the scenes at the Lottery have been whittling down the number of contenders for that private management contract to just two finalists. An announcement from the Lottery on that topic could come as early as today.
Though the state has never confirmed the number of parties it received bids from, there were believed to be three bidders -- Northstar Lottery Group, Camelot Group and Intralot.
Sources say Intralot was notified on Monday that it will not be part of the private management bid process. By our count, that leaves Camelot and Northstar in contention. No surprises there. Some observers have long contended this bid process would end up with Northstar the victor because that group is comprised of current vendors with strong ties to the existing Lottery management, including Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago.
Would the Camelot Group, which manages the United Kingdom Lottery, consider dropping out, if it suspects Northstar is assured of victory? No one's counting on that happening at this point. But if Camelot did decide to exit, it could cause the whole private management bid process to collapse, because the rules require there to be at least two finalists going forward.
Right now, many watching the process simply expect Northstar "to walk right through the front door," as one source put it, and get the Lottery private management contract on or before Sept. 15, when Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to make his decision.
Meanwhile, sources say there were nine evaluators --five from the Lottery and four outside executives -- involved in interviewing the three bidders last week. But it's appears that not all nine were present at every meeting held with bidders last week.
We asked an Illinois Lottery spokesman if he could tell us who decided who would sit on the panel of evaluators. He responded with what has become the basic mantra from the Lottery in regards to this whole private management contract bid process: "Disclosing the names of the evaluators, or those who selected them, would substantially deviate from standard operating procedures, undermine the integrity of the process and potentially taint the outcome."