Lottery pep talk | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lottery pep talk

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 1:42 PM

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, the Father of the Arkansas Lottery, is speaking to a meeting of the Lottery Commission this afternoon. I'm guessing an emphasis on an expeditious startup -- for the additional money it will raise -- would be part of the discussion today after yesterday's legislative slowdown.
Max's guess was spot on.  Halter essentially thanked the lottery commission for all their hard work.  He reminded them that serving on such a board, without pay, could be a thankless job and that cricism would naturally come.  You might remember that Halter himself criticized high lottery salaries a few weeks back.  Taking questions from the press, Halter said he believed the different governing mechanisms (the lottery commission, the legislative oversight committee) were doing their jobs.  He also said he would like to see the lottery up and running by the Sept. 28 start date proposed by Intralot.  He reiterated that the main focus of the lottery is to fund scholarships and the sooner it started generating revenue the better. 

-- Gerard Matthews

See more on the jump, including details from the commission meeting and information regarding the banking request for proposal which opened for bids today.

Halter told the commission: "For all the criticism you receive now, five years from now, 12 years from now, 20 years from now, you'll be able to look back and say that without compensation and while taking criticism, we were part of dramatically changingthe higher education prospects for the citizens of Arkansas.  And I hope that you draw the satisfaction that you so richly deserve from that accomplishment."  He also told the commission that he was "very very grateful" for their service.

As for the meeting itself, one item on the agenda was a report on yesterday's legislative oversight committee where legislators took the opportunity to voice their concerns that there was only one bidder for the online gaming contract.  The legislative oversight committee also expressed some concern over the Sept. 28 start-up date and questioned the need for the lottery to be up and running so quickly.

Commission Chairman Ray Thornton repeated those concerns to the other commissioners during his report and said that he and lottery director Ernie Passailaigue were working with the oversight committee to answer all of their questions.  Thornton was quick to point out that while the committee seemed troubled that only one bid was submitted for the online gaming contract, "no one itemized a specific problem with the bid that was offered."  The oversight committee will likely "favorably review" the contract tomorrow now that all the grandstanding is done. 

Neither Thornton nor Passailaigue discussed the committee's reservations about the Sept. 28 start date.  After the meeting Thornton said that while getting the games rolling by that date would be difficult for the commission and the lottery staff, he believed they would be able to meet that target. 

While reporters were outside talking to Halter, the commission discussed the comprehensive banking RFP, which opened for bidding this afternoon at 2:30.  So far, Bank of the Ozarks, Regions Bank, Bancorp South, US Bank, Centennial Bank and Bank of America have submitted bids. 

The RFP calls for "full service banking" including the operation of an overnight investment account, electronic fund transfers, bank statements, online services, etc.  You can see the RFP here.  (Be sure to also visit the ALC site for all the attachments and addenda).     

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