The D.C. Lottery Board invited 20 executives from three companies seeking to operate the District's first legalized daily numbers game to its offices yesterday for the announcement of the winner, but let them cool their heels for two hours before telling them it needed more time to make a decision.

Board chairman Brant Coopersmith said last night the selection was delayed, possibly until next week, so "certain technical questions with regard to the minority participation" levels of the three firms could be "understood better."

Sources said the board had asked Alphonse G. Hill, the city's deputy mayor for financial management, and William Jameson, executive director of the city's Minority Business Opportunity Commission, to consider the extent of the three firms' minority participation and give the board a report.

The level of minority participation is particularly important in determining which firm will win the lucrative contract to operate the city's first legal daily numbers game because the board has said it would give equal weight to the percentage of minority participation in each of the companies and to the expected cost of operating the game.

Yesterday, executives from General Instrument Corp., Control Data Corp. and Gaming Systems Corp.--the three computer companies that now operate all 14 daily numbers games in the United States--gathered in the lottery board offices, along with several black business executives they have enlisted as partners in newly formed D.C. firms, for the announcement of the winner.

But when Coopersmith emerged from a closed-door meeting of the board, all he said was, "I regret to tell you the board still requires further time" to make a decision.

Sources said General Instrument's partnership with IBS Digit Inc., a local minority-owned computer systems firm, submitted the lowest financial bid. The partnership, called D.C. Data Co., asked that it be paid about 2.5 percent of the total wagered in the game, which may be $100 million a year or more.

The sources said that Gaming Systems' local partnership with four minority-controlled firms, known as Lottery Technology Enterprises, submitted a bid of about 2.9 percent.

Control Data's partnership with Sterling Systems Inc., a minority-owned computer company based in McLean, and other black business executives is called Columbia Gaming Services Inc. Its bid is about 5.9 percent of the total amount wagered, the sources said.

D.C. Data and Lottery Technology have both pledged 60 percent of their equity to minority firms, while Columbia Gaming has promised 85 percent, the sources said. But the minority participation is divided in different ways in each of the three firms, the sources said, which is complicating the board's decision.

"The board is just damned confused," one source said of the board's deliberations.

The five-member board met privately with Jameson and Ivanhoe Donaldson, the District's deputy mayor for economic development, for two hours to discuss the various minority participation proposals. Donaldson said he voiced "some concerns" about the submissions by the three companies, but declined further comment.

The board last week postponed a decision on the contract award three times, in part because of a death in the family of board member Jerry Cooper and later the illness of Coopersmith.

Coopersmith said the board hopes to start the city's daily numbers game in late July.