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New twists add to intrigue in Illinois Lottery private management bid process

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It's been too long since we last referenced the protracted effort to seal a deal with a private manager to run the Illinois Lottery. We've said for months it ain't over. And it still ain't. Far from it.

While we were away dealing with other matters, a potentially interesting new wrench has been thrown into the proceedings -- namely the matter of whether Jodie Winnett will remain with the Lottery as we move into Pat Quinn's first full term as governor next month.

Even as Winnett was serving as acting superintendent of the Illinois Lottery and overseeing the protracted process to name a private manager for the Lottery, she was holding down a second job as associate director of the Illinois Department of Revenue, under whose purview the Lottery falls.

As it was explained to us by a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, Winnett could be asked by Quinn to become the permanent superintendent of the Lottery. Or Quinn could name someone new to head the Lottery when he begins his first full term as governor, in which case Winnett might simply return to doing her second full-time job in the Department of Revenue.

Or yet another scenario might ensue. If, for some reason Quinn decides to put in someone new to replace Brian Hamer as director of the Department of Revenue, that could prompt a number of new faces to appear up and down the chain of command in the Department of Revenue.

While we wait to see how all of that plays out, a separate drama continues to unfold regarding the protests from the losing contenders for the Lottery private management contract. Both Camelot and Intralot, we're told, haven't backed off their protests. Both are said to be responding aggressively to the responses to their protests that both received from the Department of Revenue a couple of weeks ago. The Intralot Group is believed to be zeroing in on Kroll Associates and the crucial role it played in dishing up dirt on Intralot's Greece-based parent operation Intralot S.A. and its leader Sokratis Kokkalis.

Among other things, Intralot is said to be raising questions about the Department of Revenue's choice of Kroll to handle probity checks for the private manager finalists. Intralot has combed through numerous documents to pinpoint what it contends are "improper ties" between Kroll and the Northstar Lottery Group, the winning bidder for the Lottery private management contract that Quinn announced way back on Sept. 15. Northstar is comprised of Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago.

Intralot also has taken major issue with what it claims are "inflammatory allegations" that Kroll included in its probity check of Intralot -- most of which Intralot maintains was done after it was dropped from contention for the private management contract early in the process.

Of course, when all of this is boiled down, there appear to be serious and deepening concerns within both the Camelot and Intralot camps that this entire private management bid process may have been rigged from the get-go, and both organizations look to be intent on proving their concerns are justified. In the meantime, no contract has been signed.

It very well may be that all of this will finally be resolved with a new leader in place at the Illinois Lottery, and possibly at the Department of Revenue. If fresh sets of eyes take a look at all that has unfolded, could that prompt a decision to rebid the private management contract? Time will tell.

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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 December 8, 2010 3:31 PM.

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