It will probably be April or later before anyone is able to buy a North Carolina lottery ticket, the lottery commissioner in charge of laying down rules for contractors said Monday.
Robert Farris is chairman of the vendor selection subcommittee, which met for the first time Monday to begin drafting the official request the state lottery would make to businesses for help in running the lottery.
During the meeting, Farris said that before any companies were asked to offer their services to the state, an executive director would have to be hired.
Farris said the earliest the lottery could expect to have a director — the full-time staff member responsible for running daily operations who reports directly to the lottery commission — is December.
He also estimated that after the new director and commission approved the request for proposals, it would take at least four months to begin lottery sales.
That would mean the earliest lottery sales would be April, if everything goes according to plan.
Farris acknowledged Monday that media reports linking lottery Commissioner Kevin Geddings, who does not sit on the vendor selection panel, and House Speaker Jim Black to lottery services provider Scientific Games has placed sharper focus on his committee's work.
"I think all of that has been distracting," he said. "But you can't do anything about the past."
Scientific Games and its rival, Gtech, are the two largest and best-known lottery vendors. But Farris said he hoped that many companies would bid for North Carolina's business.
"We just don't know what's out there," Farris said. "It would be great to have five (companies) bidding, one as good as another."
The full lottery commission is scheduled to meet today to hear from executives with experience running lotteries.