Another lottery story. The Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee met this morning to continue their review of the online gaming contract, which was discussed at length in Tuesday's meeting. They also reviewed the contracts for instant, or scratch-off, tickets and the advertising contract. The committee completed their review of all three, essentially giving the lottery commission the go-ahead to sign each contract.
The committee moved quickly on the online gaming and instant ticket contracts, but debate got a little heated when the discussion turned to the advertising bid submitted by The Communications Group. Sen. Robert Thompson (D-Paragould) specifically referred to Rex Nelson, vice president of government relations for The Communications Group, who recently made some controversial remarks about the Delta region. Thompson's main concern was that rural areas and smaller media businesses would be left out of the advertising strategy of the lottery. Legislators also took issue with a provision in the bid submitted by the Little Rock-based ad agency that said broadcast outlets would be required to offer one free advertisement for every one purchased by the commission.
Check out the jump for the gritty details.
The lottery commission provided answers to questions that remained after Tuesday's meeting regarding the online gaming contract, which will be awarded to the Greek-based company Intralot. Committee members had voiced concerns over the fact that the commission had only received one bid and the possibility that things were moving too quickly. The answers provided by the commission seemed to allay some of their concerns as there was not much more discussion on that particular contract.
The review of the instant ticket contract was also completed without much discussion, but legislators raised several questions about the advertising contract, which will now be signed with The Communications Group. Legislators were worried about a provision in the bid submitted by The Communications Group requiring broadcasting outlets to offer one free advertisement for each one paid for by the lottery commission. Jim McCall, executive director of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association, said the stipulation unfairly targeted broadcast advertising vendors as it did not set out the same requirements for billboard advertising companies or print media.
Lottery director Ernie Passailaigue said he understood the legislators' concerns and the commission would engage in good faith negotiations with advertising vendors whether they're print, outdoor or broadcasting outlets in urban or rurual areas. McCall said after the meeting that he was not sure how the issue was going to be resolved. Nelson could not comment on the details of the contract before it was signed, he said.
The oversight committee will meet again on August 27 and will likely discuss the comprehensive banking services RFP that openeed up for bids yesterday afternoon. Passailaigue told the committee that they would likely have a winning bid for legislators to review.