April 13, 2002 - The marketing director for the regional computerized lottery system that began operations in the Virgin Islands two months ago said his company hasn't been asked to work with the V.I. government to bring the popular mainland Powerball game to the territory.
But, "We could handle it and would handle it if given the opportunity," Richard Counts of Caribbean Lottery Services added on Friday.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said in a Thursday Government House release that he has applied on behalf of the Virgin Islands Lottery to join the Powerball lottery system. The computerized lottery game is operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association. According to the company web site, Powerball currently is offered in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
Lottery tickets are sold through computerized terminals linked to the Powerball corporate offices in Des Moines, Iowa. According to the company web site, while the lottery shares a common prize pool, the game is actually a state lottery game and is run on the separate computer systems in each state. A person purchasing tickets from an authorized retailer in one jurisdiction may not redeem a winning ticket in another.
According to Turnbull's statement, the addition of Powerball to the games currently offered by the V.I. Lottery could result in a "substantial increase in revenues."
Turnbull said those revenues would be shared among the Education Department, Veterans Affairs Office, Disabled Persons Fund, Small Business Development and Loan Fund, and Summer Employment of Youth Program.
Turnbull said the decision to apply for membership in Powerball was made after "extensive research" and meetings with multi-state lottery games officials. The governor said the application was made on the recommendation of Austin Andrews, the V.I. Lottery executive director. Andrews did not return telephone calls seeking comment on Friday.
At present, V.I. Lottery operations consist of vendors selling paper tickets for the semiweekly local drawings. Turnbull did not specify how the entity, which does not have the needed computer terminals, would operate the Powerball lottery if the territory's application is approved.
Government House sources said they assume the games would be operated in conjunction with Caribbean Lottery Services, which under contract with the V.I. government has been operating computerized regional lottery games in the territory since mid-February.
Counts said Friday he had not heard anything about whether the company would be involved with the Powerball game if it's approved for the territory. He agreed with Turnbull in deeming Powerball a "great way" to bring additional revenue into the territory.
Counts said the Flex-Link technology used by Caribbean Lottery Services would be compatible with the Powerball system, although "anyone could handle it." He said the real problem lies in finding a cost-effective way to bring the system to the territory.
Turnbull said the addition of Powerball would help "ensure that the Lottery will become financially solvent and a contributor to the General Fund ... rather than receiving General Fund monies as it has in years past.
Andrews, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee last September, said the V.I. Lottery lost money in Fiscal Year 2001 and was unable to make its legally mandated biweekly payments of 5 percent of its gross receipts into the General Fund.
Turnbull entered into an agreement with CLS in January to permit the company to operate its Caribbean lottery systems in the territory. At a press conference announcing the agreement with CLS, he said he was in discussion with other lottery companies, including Powerball, to determine if such games could be brought to the territory.
According to the governor's release, if the Virgin Islands is accepted for Powerball, it will become the first U.S. jurisdiction outside of the continental United States to participate in a multi-state lottery. "The Virgin Islands' participation in the game and the possibility of a future winner in the territory create the potential for tremendous positive exposure for the territory," he said.
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