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Questions Linger on Lottery Contract

D.C. Council members Jim Graham and Marion Barry had kind words for the mayor when the city pulled the proposed lottery contract to W2I.

"I'm very pleased," said Graham, the contract's harshest critic. "The public's interest is being served."

Barry, who also said he had "serious" problems with the contract, expressed the same sentiment.

"There were a lot of questions about fairness and the experience of vendors and whether it was the best deal for the District," he said. "I think the mayor is to be congratulated for acting in the best interest of the city."

But maybe they should have held off a bit.

Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi has made it clear that the contract is far from dead.

In an email to The Post, Gandhi's spokeswoman, Karyn-Siobhan Robinson said it is clearly time for an upgrade after Lottery Technology Enterprises and GTech have had the contract for 25 years. Since no other vendor bidded for the $11 million a year contract, which is for six years and has a provision for a five-year extension, who is left, but LTE and W2I?

She wrote Gandhi "is unaware of any information that would prevent this contract from being re-submitted to the council, as is, for their review and approval."

But she added: "If, after additional criminal and civil background reviews have been completed, there are issues of concerns with either of the offerers, their principals, shareholders or officers, the OCFO will then re-visit its initial responsibility."

There has been some talk about past criminal allegations. Even Eric W. Payne, Gandhi's contracting officer, mentioned it during Monday's hearing.

Leonard Manning, chief executive of LTE, the current contract-holder, is the person with criminal allegations in his history.

Manning was arrested in 1973 for operating an illegal lottery, but those charges were dismissed.

Eight years later, his father, who has the same name, Peyton Leonard Manning, was convicted of being involved in the illegal numbers game. The younger Manning was not implicated and he was quoted in a Washington Post article at the time saying that he had no knowledge of his father's activities.

By Yolanda Woodlee  |  April 10, 2008; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  City Finances , D.C. Council  
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