District to Take New Bids on Lottery
Council Rejects Proposal to Award Contract to Start-Up Business
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; Page B01
The District will take new bids for a $120 million deal to operate the city's lucrative lottery system and is bracing for a possible lawsuit after the D.C. Council rejected a proposal to give the controversial contract to a start-up firm.
The council voted 8 to 5 against the contract to W2I -- a partnership between international gaming services provider Intralot and W2Tech, a year-old company with ties to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) through fraternity and friendship. The council tabled the contract in May, but the mayor revived it repeatedly.
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) had declined to place it on the agenda after that. But council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, brought it back yesterday. "The point is we need to move forward," said Evans, who voted for the contract.
But the majority questioned W2I's experience and whether the company was a true partner with Intralot.
The vote came during the last meeting of the legislative session. This year, Fenty and the council scuffled over everything from the budget to a downtown homeless shelter to Washington Nationals tickets.
Yesterday's lottery vote promises to prompt more legal wrangling among the city, W2I and current vendor Lottery Technology Enterprises, a venture between international lottery firm GTech and New Tech Games, headed by P. Leonard Manning, who has longtime ties to city officials.
"The council has spoken, and we now will have to rebid," said Attorney General Peter Nickles.
A. Scott Bolden, attorney for W2Tech, said he was baffled by the vote. "It's not clear to me why a legislature or a council is involved in the procurement process," he said. "We're going to look at every legal option."
Another council vote has invited a fight in court.
The council approved the Firearms Registration Amendment Act, another measure that tries to put the District in compliance with the Supreme Court decision that struck down the city's longtime gun ban in June.
The legislation requires the re-registration of guns every three years, and an amendment, approved in a separate 10 to 3 vote, makes gun owners take at least four hours of classroom instruction and one hour of training at a firing range.
"We will be saving lives by requiring training," said council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who proposed the amendment.