CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Several newly appointed members of the board of the Wyoming Lottery Corporation say it's too early in the process to tell whether the state will sign on with an existing, multistate lottery such as Powerball, establish its own statewide contests or possibly do both.
Gov. Matt Mead on Monday announced the nine members of the board. His office said they plan an organizational meeting in Casper next week.
"The board members are truly Wyoming leaders in their areas of expertise," Mead said. "I appreciate their willingness to work on this challenging endeavor."
Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen is among the board members. He said members won't begin working on fundamental questions such as when tickets will go on sale until it starts meeting.
"I'm really anxious, all the other board members are too, to have that first meeting and to discuss this process," Whalen said. He said the board intends to bring in a consultant who has worked on lottery issues in other states.
The Wyoming Legislature finally passed a lottery bill earlier this year. Similar bills have been continually shot down since the 1980s.
Opponents have argued that a statewide lottery is a form of gambling and is a regressive tax on poor residents who play the game. Proponents said Wyoming was losing revenues when residents traveled out of state to buy tickets.
Analysts have projected that a lottery would gross about $25 million in Wyoming, netting about $6 million a year after expenses and prizes. Under this year's state law, the first $6 million of proceeds will go to local governments and any additional proceeds would go to a public school foundation fund.
Whalen said he believes it was insightful of Mead to include a law enforcement officer such as himself on the board at the front end.
The board will face issues such as how to prevent juveniles from buying tickets and how to avoid counterfeiting, Whalen said. He said he's on the board of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police and can help to communicate between the lottery board and state law enforcement.
Erin Taylor of the Wyoming Taxpayers Association was also named to the board.
"It's a big job," Taylor said Monday. "But you know we have a great roadmap put in front of us with the bill that the Legislature put together. A lot of the time and consideration that they spent I think will set us up to execute this really smoothly, so we're excited for that."
Taylor said one of the board's first jobs will be to hire an executive officer. She said she can't speculate when tickets will go on sale.
"We have a lot of questions out there and of course a big to-do list," Taylor said. "I couldn't even say. I know others have said maybe the start of the year. But I wouldn't be comfortable in saying that we have a set time frame until we know the scope of what's in front of us."
Mead also named Mark Macy, a Cheyenne lawyer, to the board.
"The Governor's Office has made it clear though that we're on a pretty aggressive time schedule to get this up and running," Macy said.
Macy said he believes the board is considering having Wyoming participate in a multistate lottery such as Powerball, as well as setting up its own lottery.
Macy said he believes the Legislature did a good job of setting up the distribution of the lottery proceeds. "They' go both to the state but also to the counties, cities and towns, so all of our communities are going to benefit from the lottery," he said.
Other board members are:
- Dave Bonner, publisher of the Powell Tribune.
- Brian Scott Gamroth, morning host on K2 radio in Casper.
- Jim Griffin, of Casper, a former state technology worker.
- Gerry Marburger, a CPA from Riverton.
- Ross Newman, a rancher and banker from Torrington.
- Barry Sims, of Cheyenne, former head of Taco John's International.