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Legislators approve new D.C. lottery manager

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Local,DC,Michael Neibauer

The District government will have a new lottery administrator after the D.C. Council on Tuesday ratified a contract with an international gaming firm despite charges that the deal was steered and the bids mishandled.

Roughly two years after the procurement process first started, council members finally approved a five-year, $38 million contract with Mayor Adrian Fenty's preferred lottery manager: Greek-based Intralot, with local partner Veterans Services Corp.

Despite the vote in Intralot's favor, council members chastised the Fenty administration and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer for the "flawed process" by which it selected the firm.

Several members urged losing bidders, notably Rhode Island-based G-Tech, to "pursue options available to them," including a lawsuit. G-Tech complained loudly that its proposal was unfairly derailed by the Fenty administration.

"This is one of the most reprehensible processes I have seen in a long time," said Council Chairman Vincent Gray.

The process was a "picture of ineptitude," Gray said, and the hearings held to certify Veterans Services Corp. as a minority partner were a "circus." But Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, who co-chaired a hearing on the contract last week, said the council is "not the arbiter of last resort."

The deal with Intralot means the end of Lottery Technology Enterprises, a partnership of Georgia-based Scientific Games and longtime District businessman Leonard Manning. LTE was the District's original lottery administrator.

The city's new gambling firm has pledged to modernize technology, eliminate the wait for tickets and increase revenues, said Kevin Chavous, former D.C. Council member and Intralot lobbyist. The lottery generates upward of $70 million a year for D.C. coffers, but revenues are down slightly from earlier this decade.

"There's all this [opportunity] we've been missing because we're operating on a 20-year-old computer," Chavous said. "It doesn't work."

LTE will continue to run the city's online gambling until Intralot moves in, sometime in the next year. Rebecca Dirden-Mattingly, president of the new manager's gambling division, promised a "very methodical" transition with a goal of zero downtime.

At-large Councilman Phil Mendelson was the lone vote against the contract, arguing the "fix was in" in favor of Intralot. But Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells said there's no evidence the deal was steered even if the procurement process was "bungled."

The council refused to back Intralot's last bid, submitted in 2008, because of questions about the firm's original local partner.

mneibauer@washingtonexaminer.com

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