Lottery board nears lender, CEO decisions

2013-08-08T19:59:00Z 2013-08-08T23:54:15Z Lottery board nears lender, CEO decisionsBy KYLE ROERINK Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
August 08, 2013 7:59 pm  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — The board charged with establishing the Wyoming Lottery Corporation expects to secure its first lender and interview three chief executive officer finalists within the next three weeks.

The governor-appointed, nine-member Wyoming Lottery Board has been building a lottery from scratch since its first meeting on July 8.

Friday is the final day for Wyoming banks to submit proposals for a $1 million loan to the corporation, the board announced during a teleconference on Thursday. Board members said they plan to choose a lender by Wednesday.

Six banks received requests for proposals from the board last month. Two have submitted their offers, and board members expect two more proposals by the end of Friday.

“Whoever has the lowest fees and interest rate will get it,” board Vice Chairman Barry Sims said.

The lottery is a quasi-governmental organization because it accepts no state money even though the Wyoming Legislature formed it. Because of its status, the lottery may be eligible to receive a federal tax exemption on the interest it pays. The exemption would reduce the cost of the loan by a third, said board member Ross Newman.

Little is known about the top three CEO candidates. The salary, which has yet to be determined, has been a talking point since the board began its work. There has been discussion about paying between $150,000 and $700,000 given the market. Board members say they are likely to set the figure somewhere less than $250,000.

The board placed ads for the position in a lottery trade magazine and have spoken with industry insiders to create a buzz about the CEO position. A dozen applications came from all over the country. Some applicants are lottery executives and others are high-ranking lottery officials from other states. A few are employees of lottery vendors, the companies that provide the equipment to furnish a lottery. Sims has whittled the candidate list and invited the three finalists to Cheyenne in two weeks.

“We’re going to get a good, strong person to lead us to where we need to go,” Sims said.

Once the board hires its CEO and gets its first loan, the next steps will be hiring a vendor that will equip retailers with gaming equipment.

Four-hundred retailers are expected to sell lottery games. Employees at the stores who will work on the lottery games will have to pass background checks that include fingerprinting.

One of the biggest hurdles in front of the board is hiring investigators to conduct the background checks. States with lotteries attached to government generally rely on state-run departments to collect information from retail employees. The Wyoming board may have to hire an outside firm to conduct background checks.

Another option is to contract with state investigators from Nebraska or North Dakota — states with government-run lotteries.

Board members said they expect to choose an option by the end of next week.

Powerball and other high-jackpot games will be available in the state once the lottery is up and running, which could be as soon as early next year. The board is in the process of joining the Multi-State Lottery Association — a requirement to vend games such as Powerball.

The board has also narrowed its choices for office space in Cheyenne. It wants a high-profile location downtown and plans to visit two locations in two weeks.

Board members also noted that they have been paying for travel expenses and other costs out of pocket since beginning operation. They said they won’t be reimbursed until after the board receives the $1 million loan.

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