Commission chair says negotiations started with at least 2 people
North Carolina's first lottery director could be named as early as Thursday, the chairman of the lottery commission said Friday.
The commission last week ranked six finalists and has begun negotiations with its top choice and at least one other.
"Let's say we're talking seriously to a couple people, trying to determine what their needs and interests are," said commission Chairman Charles Sanders.
Sanders has said he expects a new director could command one of the state's highest public salaries. One candidate, New Mexico lottery Director Tom Shaheen, earns $207,000. Gov. Mike Easley makes more than $121,000.
Sanders said the new director could be named at the commission's Thursday meeting if salary negotiations and state-run background checks are completed.
In addition to Shaheen, commissioners interviewed Ernie Passailaigue, director of the S.C. lottery; Paul Lanteigne, chairman of the Virginia Lottery Board; Tony Cooper, chief operating officer for South Carolina's lottery; Wanda Wilson, executive vice president of the Tennessee lottery; and Sidney Chambers, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Tennessee's games.
"In my view, all of these candidates are superb," said commissioner Jim Woodward, former chancellor at UNC Charlotte. "I think it does speak to the reputation of North Carolina. And to someone who wants to start up a lottery, I would say this is the most attractive chance still left in the U.S."
The country's highest paid lottery director is Tennessee's Rebecca Paul. She made more than $700,000 her first year with a base salary of $350,000 plus incentives. Woodward said North Carolina can expect to pay its director a lot, too.
"Unfortunately, it will be a high salary," he said. "That's simply where the market is."