North Carolina lottery officials plan to interview candidates for their top staff post next week, a key move in their effort to start selling state gaming tickets by next spring.
Members of the state's lottery commission say they likely will have to offer a director a top-dollar salary — more than $150,000, plus bonuses — to get the person they want.
Commission members sifted through a pool of 200 applications during a 45-minute meeting Monday that was closed to the public.
About 15 candidates have the basic qualifications to run a lottery, commission Chairman Charles Sanders said after the meeting. Sanders said he'll narrow down the choices in the next few days and hopes to conduct interviews on Nov. 9.
"There are a good number of people who are qualified, and if we can bring them all in, we will," he said.
Several advisers have told the nine commission members that the choice of director is the most important they will make. The director has to open offices, hire staffers, administer contracts, sign up vendors and get lottery tickets into buyers' hands on the commission's tight schedule.
Sanders, former CEO of pharmaceutical giant Glaxo, says the interviews also will happen behind closed doors, so the state can attract the best candidates for the post. He would only describe the candidate pool as an "experienced group."
"A lottery is not foreign to their background," he said.