One of the two major American lottery companies Tuesday let a key deadline pass for winning the right to operate a major chunk of North Carolina's new lottery games.
Rhode Island-based GTECH Holdings said it did not submit a letter of intent to bid for the right to operate instant-winner scratch-off ticket games in North Carolina. The letters signal a company's interest to the state and keep the company in the loop for more contract information.
GTECH's unwillingness to bid so far increases the odds that the multimillion-dollar contract for scratch-off games will go to the other major American lottery company, Scientific Games of Georgia. That company has been controversial in North Carolina since company officials disclosed this fall that it had contracted with House Speaker Jim Black's political director and one of his nominees to the state lottery commission to help gain passage of the lottery.
GTECH spokeswoman Angela Geryak Wiczek said Tuesday that the company hasn't ruled out a bid but that the company faces a significant financial hurdle in competing with Scientific Games.
The state's request for proposals requires the bidder to provide all services associated with scratch-off games, such as printing, marketing, warehousing and distributing tickets. Scientific Games is the only company that has shown it can do it all; GTECH lacks the capability to print tickets.
"We'd have to partner with an instant-ticket printer," Wiczek said.
Lottery commissioner Bob Farris said he would be concerned if Scientific Games were the only company to bid for the scratch-off games contract, but he said he had heard that other companies have filed letters of intent to bid. He said he did not know who they are.
At least one other company, Oberthur Gaming Technologies of Texas, has expressed concerns to lottery officials about the bundling of services in the scratch-off ticket proposal. Oberthur has suggested that the state offer a separate contract for printing the tickets to allow for more competition, as some states have done.
Wiczek said GTECH has delivered a letter of intent to bid on the online games that the state would offer, such as pick 3 or pick 4 lotto.
Rick Gates, a Scientific Games vice president, said the company has submitted letters of intent to bid on both the scratch-off ticket and online lottery games. He declined to comment further.
Don Reuter, a spokesman for the N.C. Education Lottery, declined to identify the companies that submitted letters expressing an interest in bidding. He said that information would be made available when the lottery commission meets today.
The state's public records law does not give a state agency the right to withhold public information until it is first presented to other state officials.