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Bank gets lottery business

Dec 9, 2003, 4:49 am

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Tennessee Lottery

Lottery officials Monday officially named First Tennessee to handle millions in banking services for the upstart game.

The bank was the lowest bidder at $51,000 over three years. Additionally, First Tennessee also scored the highest in different categories such as geographic coverage and service considerations, say officials.

Services provided under the contract will include basic banking and weekly electronic sweeps of tickets sales from retailers.

Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation (TEL) CEO Rebecca Paul is still predicting the first tickets sales on or before Feb. 10. Officials are hoping to generate roughly $128 million in net proceeds by June 30.

Weve hit a lot of our milestones; were really pleased, said TEL spokesperson Kym Gerlock.

State Rep. Chris Newton (R-Benton), who sponsored lottery legislation in the General Assembly, says TEL officials are ahead of schedule and could begin scratch off ticket sales as early as late January.

It will probably be sooner [than Feb.10], he said I think theyll meet or beat the deadline.

Roughly 1,000 retailers out of more than 3,000 applications have been approved, since late last week, said Gerlock. Out of these, approximately 116 retailers have lottery terminals and satellite dishes fully installed. Roughly 82 teams are working the state in laying the infrastructure.

All retailers are urged to submit applications as soon as possible to be eligible for first day sales, said Gerlock. Additionally, job positions posted on the lottery Web site will increase substantially in the coming week, she said.

TEL officials are expecting all proposals for a long-term advertising bid by Friday.

Meanwhile, Newton says the Joint Oversight Committee on the TEL would likely meet in late January following return of the legislature.

Newton says the committee would call in Paul for an update on progress and to discuss any needed legislation in tweaking the lottery. Paul, Newton and lottery father Sen. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) have expressed the need to increase prize-payout percentages under the legislation, which passed last session. They also wish to decrease the percentage of proceeds, which go to scholarships.

Paul says doing so, while decreasing the percentage going to scholarships, would actually increase the amount of funding.

Additionally, Newton hopes to decrease requirements home-schooled students must reach to gain a scholarship. Under the final legislation, the home schooled must make a 23 American College Testing (ACT) score, while traditional students may obtain a scholarship by scoring a 19 ACT or a 3.0 grade point average.

Under lottery statutes, net lottery proceeds will go toward college scholarships with any excess funding K-12 capital projects, early learning and after school programs.

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