D.C. Superior Court Judge Richard S. Salzman blocked the District's lottery board yesterday for at least 10 more days from signing a lucrative contract with the firm it selected to operate the city's first legal daily numbers game.
Salzman, acting in cases brought by two losing bidders who are seeking to win the contract for themselves, said he would start hearing evidence in the case this morning on whether he should impose a preliminary injunction against the lottery agency to block the contract signing until a full trial can be held. He issued his 10-day temporary restraining order prohibiting the signing as another judge's 10-day restraining order was about to expire.
Salzman said that since he was just handed the case yesterday he would "need at least 10 days just to consider" the hundreds of pages of testimony, evidence and arguments already generated by teams of lawyers for the competing firms in the case.
The dispute over the contract, which could be worth $4 million a year or more to the winning firm based on anticipated wagering of $100 million, centers on the extent and validity of the local minority involvement promised by the white-controlled computer companies involved in the three bids.
Salzman's action, combined with earlier delays, likely will push the start of the city's daily numbers game at least into September, well past the once-planned July 18 starting date. The D.C. game will be identical to the one now operating in Maryland in which players select a three-digit number and wager that it will be drawn as that day's winner.
The immediate effect of Salzman's order, however, was to provide continued work for a battery of at least two dozen lawyers who are representing the three firms and the lottery board in the contentious legal dogfight. A total of 20 lawyers crowded into the well of Salzman's court for yesterday's brief hearing while others sat in the courtroom.
After Salzman issued his order, one disgruntled lottery official left, saying, "This is a lawyer's income relief motion. Every 10 days they make another $500,000."
Even one lawyer joked, "I'm getting a headache listening to the ticking on the meter," which may be at a rate of $150 an hour or more for the lawyers in the case.
D.C. Mayor Marion Barry asked the lottery board last week to settle its differences with city Corporation Counsel Judith W. Rogers over legal strategy in the case and have her office represent the board. Instead, the board had David P. Towey of the Arnold and Porter firm in court as its representative yesterday. No one appeared for Rogers' office.
David Povich and two of his colleagues from the firm of Williams and Connolly have been hired along with another firm to represent Gaming Systems Corp. Gaming Systems is the Rhode Island-based computer firm that joined with four minority-controlled D.C. firms to form Lottery Technology Enterprises, the joint venture the lottery board selected as the contract winner on March 15.
Lottery Technology had its team of lawyers in court, as did Columbia Gaming Services Inc. and D.C. Data Co., the two losing bidders.
Judge Eugene N. Hamilton issued the earlier restraining order. Under Superior Court regulations he acted in an emergency capacity and although he could have continued to hear the case, court officials instead opted to reassign it to Salzman. While imposing the restraining order, Salzman ordered D.C. Data and Columbia Gaming to post a $100,000 bond by today, which they could forfeit if they lose the case.