It's a new year, everyone, and it still ain't over. Yes, the curious, disturbing and always surprising, process to name a private management firm to run the Illinois Lottery goes on. And on. And on.
The latest development, and first of the new year, concerns Melissa M. Riahei, who was, until very recently, general counsel for the Illinois Lottery. But no more. Riahei has abruptly left the Lottery to take a job as executive vice-president and general counsel of U.S. Digital Gaming. As recently as today, Riahei's abrupt exit apparently was news to some in the Illinois Department of Revenue, under whose purview the Lottery falls. Riahei had been the Lottery's general counsel since 2007.
Riahei was a key player, of course, in this entire, protracted process to name a private manager for the Illinois Lottery. Gov. Pat Quinn selected Northstar Lottery Group to get the contract on Sept. 15, but no contract has been signed. Northstar is comprised of Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago. Losing contenders Intralot and Camelot Group have filed protests about the bid process and its outcome that are still in process.
Riahei is of interest because, sources say, she was involved in efforts to get Intralot to drop its protest and avoid the release of unflattering details about Sokratis Kokkalis, the head of Intralot's parent company in Greece, Intralot SA. Intralot did not withdraw its protest, and the Lottery and Department of Revenue subsequently made good on its threat (some have called it blackmail) to release an unflattering report about Kokkalis.