The Wyoming Lottery Board estimates it will get $20 million from ticket sales in the first year of the state’s legal games of chance, which are now targeted to start February 2014.
The board Friday evening reviewed a preliminary budget that considered the $20 million figure, which was based on estimates the lottery industry provided the Wyoming Legislature, said Brian Scott Gamroth, lottery board chairman. The law that legalized lottery in Wyoming requires 50 percent of ticket sales be returned in winnings.
“Keep in mind again these are all approximate and this is not testament to any kind of schedule that we have developed or announced,” Gamroth said.
The board is scrambling to adopt a budget, hire staff, find office space and decide whether Wyoming’s lottery should be part of a multi-state lottery. The bill that legalized a lottery passed this spring and went into effect July 1.
While the lotto board on Friday discussed hiring a CEO, they were silent about compensation, except to say they were willing to offer a signing bonus.
Gamroth later said that the salary was discussed in an executive session but is not yet public.
It likely won’t be $700,000, as Rebecca Hargrove, CEO of the Tennessee Lottery told the board on Tuesday that they may have to pay.
“That’s awfully high,” Gamroth said after Friday’s board meeting.
Hargrove on Tuesday said the range of $100,000 to $175,000 that the lotto board was rumored to be considering was too low. She said a candidate who is currently working elsewhere would not consider such a low salary.
At Friday’s meeting, board members discussed 15 attributes they want the future CEO of Wyoming lottery to possess.
“This is again as opposed to having a search group out there,” Gamroth said. “We are the search group, and these are the attributes we are looking for in a CEO coming in to run a Wyoming state lottery.”
Attributes included team-building, business knowledge, composure, a customer focus, integrity, trust, values, innovation, listening skills, negotiating, management leadership and presentation skills.
Of the 15 attributes, the board will decide 10 that are most important. Those 10 will either be described in the CEO job advertisement or will otherwise be used by the board in interviews.
Board members are drafting a job description that they will post on industry website lotteryinsider.com.
The website “will be an opportunity to get in front of people in the industry,” said Barry Sims of Cheyenne, a former head of Taco John's International. “They have a pretty good clearinghouse of jobs in the gaming and lottery business.”
“We could easily have a job description and an advertisement put together at the end of next week,” Gamroth said.
The lottery board would like to have a CEO hired in the next two or three months.
The board discussed joining a multi-state lottery. Some lottery groups are national and some run games in a few states. No decisions were made on whether to join a multi-state lottery and which one to join.
“As we take a look at multi-state lotteries, you have greater payouts,” Gamroth said, using a recent $600 million Powerball winner as an example.
“A Wyoming state lottery, developed for and boy Wyoming, it would take years for that to get to a $600 million level.”
The only decision made during Friday’s meeting was that the lottery board will begin weekly telephone conferences from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
In the preliminary budget, Gerry Marburger, a board member and certified public accountant from Riverton, considered six employees, but board members said that in North Dakota, a nearby state with a similar population, there are eight employees working for the state’s lottery.
The lottery board wants to acquire short-term office space. In Cheyenne, it will likely have to pay $5,000 a month for a 3,500-square-foot office for eight employees, a small conference room and reception area, Sims said.
Until ticket sales can roll into Wyoming lottery coffers, the lottery board needs some cash to operate. They want to take out a short-term loan, possibly $500,000 to $750,000, from a Wyoming-based bank.
“We’re looking at six months’ financing,” Sims said.
Board members commented that several Wyoming banks expressed interest in lending the money.
The loan will probably be secured by a promise to future revenues, Sims said.
The board has to assemble paperwork and distribute it to the banks next week.
“In less than 30 days, we’ll have some financing in place,” he said.