Current employees of the Illinois Lottery will have job protections even after a private manager takes over lottery operations next year.

Current employees of the Illinois Lottery will have job protections even after a private manager takes over lottery operations next year.


The legislation that authorized the state to look for a private manager specified that current workers could not lose their jobs as a result of the takeover. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 150 lottery employees, insisted on the protections.


“All AFSCME-represented lottery employees will remain state employees and AFSCME members with their contractual rights in place,” said AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall.


A total of 170 people work for the lottery, 57 of them in Springfield and 54 more in Chicago and Des Plaines, lottery spokeswoman Sue Hofer said. The agreement also states that employees will not be required to relocate during the 10-year term of the contract.


Northstar Lottery Group was selected Wednesday to manage the lottery for the next decade, in hopes that new management will boost both lottery sales and profits for the state. Northstar is a consortium of current lottery contractors Scientific Games, GTECH and Energy BBDO. Scientific Games supplies instant-game tickets to the state, GTECH supplies lottery terminals, and Energy BBDO handles advertising.


 


State fringe benefits


Northstar spokeswoman Carolyn Grisko said the plan calls for about 100 lottery employees to report to Northstar managers rather than state managers.


“They will all continue to work. They will be paid by the state with state benefits,” she said.


Since Northstar will be adding hundreds of lottery terminals throughout Illinois and expanding sales, Grisko said, the consortium expects to hire another 100 people, but they won’t be state workers.


Despite the employee protections, AFSCME still thinks it is a mistake to put the lottery under private management, Lindall said.


“We still think that privatization of any public asset is a bad thing,” Lindall said. “There is no reason the state had to bring in an outside third party, pay them tens of millions of dollars to do the same thing the state could have done themselves.”


 


Closed-door process


Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, also thinks the deal is a bad one for the state, but for a different reason.


“Because of the way the government conducted the bidding process. It was not transparent,” Franks said.


Much of the selection process was conducted behind closed doors and without much information released publicly. Since awarding the contract, state officials have placed a number of documents online, but many sections of the proposals submitted by the three bidders were redacted.


“Each bidder provided information that they considered protected, confidential, proprietary and/or trade secret information,” Hofer said. “For the purposes of the voluntary online posting, the information that the bidder considered confidential was redacted.”


Franks said he is still doing research, but may call for a formal investigation.


“Perhaps it was done this way to be a preordained conclusion,” he said. “There’s no way we can tell.”


 


Northstar a plus, spokesman says


Some complaints were leveled because the winning consortium is composed of companies that already work for the lottery.


Grisko, though, said the arrangement will work to the state’s advantage.


“The fact that GTECH and Scientific Games already understand the Illinois market is a plus,” Grisko said. “They will have the shortest startup time and above all, they will return the most revenue.”


Northstar intends to increase lottery sales and profits by “modernizing the brand and making it more relevant” Grisko said. “We don’t know yet what the rebranding will look like.”


Northstar also intends to expand the number of outlets in the state that sell lottery tickets, as well as placing them in new locations. Lottery terminals have long been a fixture in convenience stores, but Grisko said Northstar wants to shift the focus to other retail outlets.


 


Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.


 


Candidates question process


State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the Republican candidate for governor, wants to review Illinois’ new lottery management contract, but is concerned about how the new manager was selected, said spokeswoman Patty Schuh.


“In light of the recent scandals in Illinois, we need to ensure full transparency, and that appears to be lacking in this process,” Schuh said. “But we are reviewing it, just as everyone else is, as the information becomes available.”


Rich Whitney of Carbondale, the Green Party candidate for governor, issued a statement that was critical of having a private firm so involved in the lottery system, as well as the secrecy of the selection process. He’d also like to abolish the lottery.


“The public has a right to know what offers were made and by whom,” Whitney said, adding that the lack of details “creates an appearance of impropriety.


“And given that our state’s reputation for ethics in government is not exactly deserving of a gold star right now, I think the governor has once again exercised poor judgment.”


Whitney favors an income-tax increase and a tax on trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He said he would abolish the lottery “as soon as we can afford to do so.


“Gambling is a hidden tax on the poor, the ignorant and the desperate,” Whitney said. “We should never have gone down this road.”


-- Bernard Schoenburg


 


Summary of Illinois Lottery evaluations


 


Average of each of the five criteria and total scores 


(Minimum requirement: 140 points out of 200)


 


Camelot Intralot Northstar


Growing the customer base 14 15 18


Social responsibility 16 14 16


Management record 14 13 16


Past performance 15 15 11


Business plan 88 77 97


Total 148 134 157


 


Source: Illinois Lottery


 


On the Web


For more details of how the contract was selected, go to http://www.illinoislottery.com/subsections/Management.htm