MONTPELIER, Vt. — The company that has operated Vermont Lottery games for the past 10 years is suing the state, trying to force the release of documents related to Vermont's decision to switch to another company.
Scientific Games International Inc. alleges in a lawsuit that the state Lottery Commission, its executive director, Alan Yandow, and Attorney General William Sorrell have violated Vermont's public records law for about a year by refusing to provide the documents.
Scientific Games, based in Alpharetta, Ga., points to the announcement by the Lottery Commission in June 2009 that beginning this July 1, it would award the business of managing state lottery games to Intralot Inc., based in Athens, Greece.
"Now, almost a year later, the Commission still has not released Intralot's bid or other key procurement documents, despite repeated requests that it do so," Scientific Games said in the lawsuit dated June 2.
The complaint filed in Washington Superior Court seeks the immediate release of the documents, that the state be barred from signing a contract for at least 15 days after the documents are released, attorneys' fees and other costs.
Megan Shafritz, an assistant attorney general and chief of the office's civil division, said in an interview that it's state policy — not a violation of the public records law — for the state not to release details of a contract award until the negotiations are complete.
The usual pattern is for the state to put out a request for proposals from potential contractors, receive sealed bids and review them, publicly announce which firm is selected and then negotiate the exact terms of a contract with the selected firm. Shafritz and Yandow said the details of a contract proposal are kept under wraps until the final contract is signed.
Lawyers for Gravel and Shea, the Burlington-based law firm representing Scientific Games, argued that policy denies the public and competing bidders the opportunity to point out when negotiating a final contract with a winning bidder might not be a good idea.
"To protect taxpayers from government waste and (ensure) that businesses can compete freely and fairly for state business, Vermont statutes and regulations require that state agencies, including the Commission, to provide free and open examination of records underlying a contract award decision," lawyers Robert O'Neill and Matthew Byrne wrote in the complaint.
A key question Scientific Games wants answered is whether Intralot planned to use a satellite-based telecommunications system to link lottery terminals around the state with the lottery's headquarters in Berlin.
The company wrote to Administration Secretary Neale Lunderville last year to say such a system would not work well in Vermont and that it would not meet the 99.7 percent reliability standard the state sought when it invited companies to bid for the work.
The complaint quoted from the letter, which said a satellite-based lottery system "will very likely experience performance difficulties in Vermont due to the unique weather and foliage challenges."
Lunderville did not immediately return a voice mail left on his cell phone. An Intralot spokeswoman also did not immediately respond to an e-mailed message to the company's headquarters Wednesday.