Aug. 16, 2013 – The Wyoming Lottery on Wednesday chose local Wyoming Jonah Bank to supply the $1 million start-up loan the newly-formed Lottery commission will need to get the state’s Lottery up-and-running.
The Wyoming Lottery was officially formed July 1 as a private corporation, mostly separate from the state government and decidedly ineligible for state funding – the nine board members of the Lottery commission have been paying all of their expenses out of pocket since they began building the new Lottery.
The board announced that it had accepted Jonah Bank’s offer of $1 million with an interest rate of 1.75 percent – an atypically low interest rate by any standard.
“The rate we’re borrowing money at astounds me,” said Lottery board member Ross Newman, a 20-year banking veteran.
The low interest rate may not be the end of the new Lottery’s lucky streak, either. Because of their ties, however small, to the state government, the Lottery corporation may be eligible for a Federal tax exemption, which Newman said could reduce the total cost of the loan by a third.
Securing a loan was among the biggest hurdles the Lottery had to cross on its way to launching games, which they hope to do by January or February 2014.
Now that they’ve gotten the $1 million loan they were looking for, the Lottery has already begun charging through the next steps of their start-up plan.
The board told the Billings Gazette they’d hired Cheyenne-based law firm Hathaway and Kunz, who will be instrumental in negotiating a contract with a CEO and a vendor to supply and distribute games to retailers.
Hathaway and Kunz will also be able to determine whether or not the Lottery can receive the federal exemption on its loan; the board said they were waiting to hear the firm’s decision on the matter.
The board has already scheduled interviews with four top CEO prospects, and Vice Chairman Barry Sims told the Gazette they expect to name their selection by Sept. 1.
The interviews will be held in Cheyenne, where the board is said to be scouting two high-profile locations for Lottery headquarters.
Along with finding a vendor to distribute games – which will only be draw games like Powerball, as lawmakers vehemently opposed “instant gratification” lottery games like scratch-offs – they’ll also need retailers to sell the games.
The board has said they’re looking for about 400 retailers, but must vet each one carefully before approving them to sell lottery tickets.
Private investigators will need to be hired to complete fingerprinting and background checks the state law requires for every lottery employee. The Gazette reported that the board was searching for two investigators with law enforcement experience to carry out the checks.