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Senate Proposes Making Ohio Lottery A Semi-Private Agency

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 4:08 PM

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The Senate’s version of the state budget includes a proposal to allow a private operator to run the Ohio Lottery. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler has details.

Republican leaders in the Senate have proposed requiring the Ohio Lottery Commission to contract with a private vendor for day-to-day management of the $2.5 billion agency by next June 1.  The language in the bill came from Mike Dawson, a longtime Republican consultant and lobbyist who works with gaming company and former lottery contractor GTech.

“This is all about providing an open and transparent process to pick a private manager which can operate the Lottery with greater efficiencies and increased sales so that the state can make more money.”

Dawson says it’s impossible to say exactly how much more money the state can make, and all profits would still go to public education. But the private manager would make money, after negotiating that with the state. And Dawson says just because his company submitted the language that’s in the bill, that doesn’t mean it will be chosen to operate the lottery if that language stays in the budget.

“All our language did was set up a process to do it. It doesn’t say who is going to get the bid - it just sets up a process for it. I understand that there were other people who submitted language also.”

GTech provided betting technology for the Ohio Lottery for decades until the state went with another vendor a few years ago, during the administration of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. GTech is also represented by Donald Thibaut, who was Gov. John Kasich’s chief of staff when Kasich was in Congress. But the idea to make the lottery a semi-private agency isn’t new – Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said in an audit of the lottery last September that it could save the state about $2 million a year.

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Education, Government/Politics, Statehouse News Bureau

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