Thursday, January 20, 2011

Illinois Lottery Picks Management, Worries Gambling Foes

By Mary J. Cristobal, Illinois Statehouse News
Northstar Lottery Group is the big winner in the Illinois Lottery. Beginning in July, Chicago-based Northstar Lottery Group will manage the state's lottery games under a 10-year management contract. And by 2016, five years into the contract, Northstar estimates it will generate $5 billion in revenue for the Illinois Lottery. The lottery raked in $2.2 billion in 2010.

Northstar Lottery Group was chosen over Camelot Group, the firm that manages the national lottery in the United Kingdom. The partnership was inked on Tuesday. Lottery spokeswoman Susan Hofer said Gov. Pat Quinn chose Northstar because the company  projected the most revenue.

Carolyn Grisko, a spokeswoman for Northstar, said the firm wants to revitalize the Illinois Lottery brand by developing new online games, refreshing in-store merchandise and expanding retail outlets. With 73 percent of the state's lottery players older than 45, according to a study, Northstar sees an “opportunity to expand customer base and attract younger players,” according to its business proposal.

But aggressive marketing tactics trouble some anti-gambling advocates. “We’re concerned about underage gambling because you’ll only have to be 18 years old to gamble on the lottery,” said Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems. “We’re also concerned about people who are vulnerable people who don’t have much money who will be enticed to spend more money gambling at a time when the economy is in such bad shape. And the role of the government in this – of promoting gambling – is distressing.”

Northstar's selection now will allow the Attorney General's Office to look into McHenry County State Rep. Jack Franks' charges the Quinn Administration manipulated the selection process so the company would come out on top and that Northstar has a conflict of interest managing the lottery since the three company's that comprise it already have contacts as lottery vendors.  Franks made the complaints four months ago but an AG spokesman told FEN last month there wasn't any point to looking into the matter unless Northstar got the contract.

You can read Mary's full report at:

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