Some familiar names want the contracts, with the two largest lottery vendors in the country submitting. With credibility on the line, lottery leaders are trying to portray a secure and impartial selection process.
There was no small envelope to open. Instead, lottery security officials wheeled in large boxes of documents. With multimillion-dollar contracts on the line, lottery vendors submitted mammoth binder notebooks and detailed plans to run the games.
Georgia-based Scientific Games will compete against GTECH Corp. of Rhode Island to operate North Carolina's instant-ticket games. GTECH is teaming with a company called Oberthur Gaming to design, print, and supply tickets, along with all of the machines and storage.
As for the online or drawing games, GTECH and Scientific Games will battle again. The winner will supply all of the tickets and printing machines, and link up the numbers games.
Scientific was allowed to bid despite being under investigation for possible lobbying law violations. The company paid former lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings tens of thousands of dollars to advocate the games. The vendor also paid Speaker Jim Black's political director Meredith Norris. Unless there's a felony conviction, the company can compete.
"We want everybody to be comfortable with the fact that this is not about politics," said lottery spokeswoman Pam Walker.
Off-duty Wake County sheriff's deputies will guard the bid documents 24 hours a day until a decision is made. Lottery commissioners and the new director will not plow through the bids. Teams that include executives from out-of-state lotteries will do the detailed evaluations.
"Hopefully the citizens of the state of North Carolina will see we're doing this with integrity," said Walker.
Evaluation teams will pour over the bids in private during the next two weeks. They'll make recommendations to the lottery director. The lottery commission is expected to vote Feb. 2. The goal is to start selling scratch tickets by April.