The Wyoming Lottery board voted 8-1 at a special meeting Monday to release salary information for board members and employees.
Lottery CEO Jon Clontz said he will distribute the salary information Tuesday.
After the salary issue was decided, the board passed a provisional budget for the upcoming fiscal year with $27 million in projected revenues — but didn't have copies of the projections for the public to view.
Since April, local media and lotto officials have disagreed on whether the salaries should be made public. (See Wyoming Lottery refuses to release individual salaries, Lottery Post, May 18, 2015.)
The Casper Star-Tribune, in a June 2 letter to the board from its attorney Bruce Moats, argued that the lottery is a quasi-public entity that's subject to the Wyoming Public Records Act under most circumstances since its board is appointed by the governor, it must send profits to local governments and schools, an assistant attorney general has been present at meetings and states with similar lottery laws have released compensation information.
Lottery officials, however, argued for over a month that they are independent of the law because they were charged with maximizing revenue and received no start-up money. They argued the law that governs the lottery allows for it to decide whether to release information.
"I'm glad they're releasing that information," Moats said. "But what's still left unresolved at this time is the larger issue of whether they can, just at their sole discretion, decide what to release."
There was no discussion among lottery board members about the salaries during the public portions of the meeting, which were broken up by a 90-minute executive session in which the public was asked to leave because the board was discussing policy and procedure and personnel matters. The first public portion of the meeting lasted about nine minutes, and the second was about 16.
Board chairman Brian Scott Gamroth was the lone dissenting vote on releasing salary information.
"I still firmly believe we are a private corporation and we are the ones that make the decisions on what is confidential and not confidential," he said after the meeting.
The Wyoming Legislature created the lottery in 2013. WyoLotto began selling tickets Aug. 24. After a bank loan is paid off, lottery revenues are supposed to be distributed to cities, towns and counties and an education fund.
Rep. Bunky Loucks, R-Casper, attended the meeting. The public was told the lottery would be a source of entertainment and a source of revenue for the state. The public deserves information, he said.
"The bottom line is there needs to be transparency in the lotto," he said. "This is a good step forward."
Moats, the media attorney, said it is troublesome that lottery officials didn't have copies of the budget documents. The officials could have made copies or emailed PDF documents. The board met at the Ramkota Hotel, where there was free Internet.
"It seems like that's something that could be readily available and could be provided immediately," he said.
Lottery COO Louise Plata said she would get the information later Monday or Tuesday.
Also at the lottery board meeting, Gamroth said he will step down as chairman at the end of the fiscal year.
The board elected new officers, who will begin serving July 1:
- Mark Macy, chairman
- Erin Taylor, vice chairwoman
- Gerry Marburger, treasurer
- Dave Bonner, secretary
Board member Jim Griffin is stepping down and Gov. Matt Mead will soon appoint his replacement, Gamroth said.
The next Wyoming Lottery board meeting is July 21.