Organizers of North Dakota's new lottery have interviewed companies that are competing to sell tickets, and a potential supplier -- and a new promotional logo for the game -- may be approved as early as next week.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said no specific date for selling the first Powerball ticket has been set, although he still expects the game to begin by April 1.
"It just takes time, and people get very anxious -- especially when the Powerball jackpot gets up -- to buy their tickets, and I understand it," Stenehjem said. "But we just have to do it right, and there are just a myriad of things that have to be done."
Representatives of three companies that are bidding to supply the tickets, computer terminals and communications network that will be needed to run Powerball were interviewed recently by a group of five state employees. The group, headed by Chuck Keller, the state lottery director, will recommend which company should be hired.
Scientific Games International Inc. of Alpharetta, Ga., GTech Corp. of West Greenwich, R.I., and Intralot USA of Duluth, Ga., have submitted proposals.
Intralot's parent company is based in Athens, Greece, and it is attempting to expand its U.S. presence. In September, it won the contract to run the Nebraska lottery's online gaming operations.
Keller said the state's lottery advisory board will discuss the proposals Dec. 1, along with a recommended logo and slogan for North Dakota's game. Art and design students at several North Dakota colleges have crafted suggested logos.
After years of rejecting the idea, North Dakota voters last November approved a constitutional amendment to allow the state to take part in a multistate lottery.
The Legislature subsequently approved joining Powerball, which is played in 24 states, including Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota.
Two other multistate games, called Hot Lotto and Wild Card 2, will be offered later. Both are run by Powerball's administrative agency, the Multistate Lottery Association of West Des Moines, Iowa.
Keller has hired an accountant and administrative assistant for the state lottery office, and still must hire a second assistant, a customer service representative and an advertising and marketing director.
The office is presently located in the Capitol's west legislative wing, squirreled away in space normally used by clerks and other workers when the Legislature is in session. In April, the operation will move to the Capitol's 17th floor.
To make room, the attorney general's consumer protection division will move to the offices of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which uses space in a private office building in north Bismarck.
The office will be located in the Capitol to maintain its closeness to support personnel in the attorney general's gaming division, which regulates North Dakota's charitable gambling industry.
There are no plans to sell lottery tickets at the headquarters itself, so there is less need to make the office readily accessible to the public, Keller said.
"Lottery offices in other states do get (customer) traffic, but it is primarily traffic from players," he said.