Lottery CEO says tickets could go on sale by June

2014-01-12T15:25:00Z 2014-01-13T17:34:06Z Lottery CEO says tickets could go on sale by JuneThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 12, 2014 3:25 pm  • 

CHEYENNE -- The leader of the Wyoming Lottery Corporation says he is confident lottery tickets will go on sale in the state in June.

Jon Clontz, chief executive officer of the lottery corporation, told members of the Cheyenne Greater Chamber of Commerce on Friday that the timeline for selling tickets starts as early as June, but could be as late as October.

While Clontz predicted a June launch, he said the timeline depends on how much time is spent on contract negotiations and other factors.

Wyoming residents will be able to buy tickets for two types of multistate games -- Powerball and Mega Millions.

The state law that established the lottery does not allow for instant-win games like scratch-off tickets.

Lawmakers narrowly approved House Bill 77, which called for the creation of a state lottery, in the 2013 legislative session.

Gov. Matt Mead signed the bill in March, clearing the way to start the process of bringing lottery games to the state.

Mead then appointed a nine-member board to create a governance plan. Board members are from various parts of Wyoming, including Cheyenne, Casper, Powell and Torrington, he said.

The board hired Clontz, who started Oct. 7. He previously was deputy director of the Oregon Lottery.

He plans to have a staff of eight, with possibly as many as 10, including himself. He said he has hired half of the staff, including Louise Plata as the gaming operations officer. She comes from the Oregon Lottery. He also hired Ted Robinette of Cheyenne.

The Wyoming Lottery Corporation is a quasi-government corporation. It operates as a private business and borrowed about $1 million from Jonah Bank to establish operations and pay for initial prize money.

The corporation does not employ any state employees and does not use any state tax money, he said.

Work done so far with the corporation includes setting up the state office in downtown Cheyenne, as well as installing computer systems, payroll systems and other functions necessary for such an operation.

The lottery staff soon will send out requests for proposals for banking services and website development.

Warehouse 21 of Cheyenne will design the lottery logo, which soon will be ready.

The next big job is to find a gaming vendor. A request for proposals for a gaming vendor will be sent out next month.

The corporation also will develop a system for retail businesses that want to sell tickets. Ticket sales are in the development phase right now, Plata said.

State lottery employees will come up with a process so Wyoming retailers can fill out forms on the lottery’s website to show their interest in selling tickets. Such information will be available on the website in the next 60 to 90 days, Plata said.

More information about the process will be announced statewide.

Contacted after the chamber session, Clontz said he doesn’t know how much money the lottery will raise. Information needed to make such a projection isn’t available yet, but he likely will have it within a month, he said.

State officials projected in March that the lottery could generate $5 million to $9 million a year for Wyoming.

State law says that the first $6 million worth of revenue will be distributed to cities, towns and counties based on the state’s sales tax formula. Any additional earnings would flow into the Permanent Land Fund’s Common School Account.

Rep. Dave Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, was the main sponsor of the bill.

Contacted Friday, he said he was pleased with the way things were progressing. “They haven’t rushed into it,” but instead have taken care of things very methodically, he said.

“In the long run, that pays dividends too,” he said.

Zwonitzer said he looks forward to the start of the lottery. It will be beneficial to the state and the Cheyenne area, he added.

A lot of money is spent outside of Wyoming on lottery tickets that could be spent here, he said.

Plenty of Wyoming people drive to Colorado to buy lottery tickets, he said. Once sales start here, the money will stay in Wyoming.

Some criticized the lottery and said it would increase gambling. But Zwonitzer said Wyoming’s lottery does not provide instant gratification like a slot machine.

“You have to wait to see if you win or lose,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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