Potential sites include Florida, Kentucky
Members of the Tennessee Lottery Board may visit seven states and a Canadian province in a search for information about setting up and running the Tennessee lottery.
Two committees of the lottery board met by teleconference yesterday, one to talk over potential visits by the seven board members to other lottery states and the other to write the criteria and application for the board's legal counsel.
The board is looking at a trip to Canada because several Canadian provinces have partnerships to hold lotteries, something that has been proposed in this country but not yet done.
The head of the Georgia lottery corporation has suggested such a partnership with Tennessee, saying that both states could benefit from economy of scale in running the operating, and Georgia could help get the Tennessee lottery in place four months earlier than anticipated.
Gov. Phil Bredesen said Tuesday that the proposal by Georgia Lottery CEO Rebecca Paul should be considered, but added that he was not advising the board to accept or reject it.
Both of yesterday's teleconference committee meetings were open in the Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, where the public could listen to discussions over a speaker phone. Unlike the packed meetings of the full lottery board, this one drew only about a dozen lobbyists, lawyers, members of the governor's staff and reporters.
The conference call on visits to other lotteries was between Claire Tucker of Nashville and Marvell Mitchell of Memphis. They plan to finalize their recommendation tomorrow and present it to the full board Monday.
Board members may split into teams to do the on-site inspections.
Tucker said the board should take into consideration the recommendation by state Rep. Chris Newton, R-Benton, chief House sponsor of the lottery legislation, that the board include in its plans visits to Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina.
Other potential sites for visits are Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Florida and one of the Canadian provinces.
Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisiana and New Mexico were chosen because their lotteries are structured somewhat like that proposed for Tennessee in that they are all quasi-public entities. Texas and Florida were picked because they are state-run agencies that outsource all lottery functions.
''We have talked about the merits of doing something with Georgia,'' Tucker said. ''One of the major issues that has come up is, will we move to some sort of regional setup? To that end we might want to consider visiting someplace that has a regional lottery.
''The one doing it the longest and best is the Atlantic Lottery Corp. in Canada.''
According to its Web site, Atlantic Lottery Corp. sells lottery products through more than 6,000 retailers in the four Atlantic provinces.
Tennessee's lottery board is having to choose new legal counsel after Bass Berry & Sims, the firm originally chosen, was asked to step down by Bredesen because of his own close ties to the firm.
Discussing a replacement legal firm were Sevierville attorney Jim Ripley, Nashville businesswoman Deborah Story and Nashville financier Denny Bottorff, chairman of the lottery board, who said he wanted to encourage maximum participation by applicants.
Bottorff said a consortium of law firms might want to apply, including some from outside Nashville.