The three-month-old D.C. lottery is looking for a place to call home.
Since lottery tickets first went on sale in August, the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board has paid off its large prize winners and orchestrated the instant games out of makeshift quarters on three floors of an office building at 1420 New York Ave. NW.
But lottery board members think that permanent, more secure offices are needed, especially with the prospective start next June 22 of a daily numbers game similar to the one now operating in Maryland.
The D.C. Instant Lottery already has sold more than $31 million worth of tickets in two games and last month staged a drawing to determine its first two $1 million winners.
Lottery board chairman Brant Coopersmith said that "contingent on the necessary approvals" by the full board, the lottery will move its offices and main prize distribution center a short distance away to an office building on 14th Street NW, between K and L streets. Board members have the authority to choose the location they want, so long as the location meets city leasing guidelines.
No final decision has been made, however, and the five lottery board members are still considering other sites.
Two of the five board members, Almore M. Dale and Carolyn Lewis, have expressed support for locating the offices in Southeast Washington, where they both live, in an effort to promote the economic growth of Anacostia, where some of the city's poorest neighborhoods are located. Such an approach also has been backed by the Washington-area division of the National Conference of Catholics and Jews, which has its offices in Anacostia.
Coopersmith and board member Lillian Wiggins both have said that they are not opposed to locating the board's offices in Anacostia. But they said their prime consideration is to find an office building that the lottery operation can occupy by itself, providing greater security for what Coopersmith describes as the lottery's heart: its records and computers. Board member Jerry S. Cooper echoed this sentiment and said that he favors "a downtown spot where we have total control."
Board members have visited an office building at 2041 Martin Luther King Ave. SE, but the lottery board would have to share the building with other tenants. It would not have to share the 14th Street location.
Coopersmith said that the lottery's computer is vulnerable in its New York Avenue offices because the public has access to the building, which is used by other D.C. government agencies.
"I like where the public can come into a certain defined area and be dealt with, such as in a ground-level claims center , and the rest of the area closed off," Coopersmith said. "I like it so they only get where they belong."
The lottery board's computers now are used to verify code numbers of the larger winning tickets to ensure that the tickets are genuine.
With the start of the daily numbers game, in which players select a three-digit number and hope that it is drawn as the winner, sales agents will write tickets by punching each player's number into a computer. When the winning number is selected, lottery officials will be able to determine within a short time how much money they must pay out in winnings each day.
All of this will mean greater reliance on computers and greater concern for their security, Cooper pointed out.