That may include more draw games — lotteries where people buy tickets for regular drawings — as well as scratch tickets and raffles, Clontz said Wednesday during an interview at the Powell Tribune office.
“I’m pretty confident by next year, we’ll have a couple new draw games in the portfolio,” he said.
“I’d like to see scratch tickets come in,” Clontz said. “They’re fun. People like them. I’m getting asked a lot about them. Me personally, I hope we get to do scratch tickets.”
Video lottery, scratch tickets and other forms of “immediate gratification gambling” are banned under the HB 77, which was signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead on March 13, 2013. It allowed Wyoming to establish its own lottery and enter into agreements with other lottery associations for multi-state games.
Clontz said he knows the Legislature and governor would have to modify the law to allow scratch tickets or video lottery.
“That would have to happen,” he said.
The board can add a Wyoming-specific lottery, raffles or other forms of gambling, he said. It does not need permission from the state to do so.
Clontz said he sees the need for more games to get more people to play. Wyoming has an estimated 380,000 people over 18 who legally can play the games, he said.
They want more options. Adding a state drawing, perhaps something called “Cowboy Lotto” or a similar name, would bring more revenue in, Clontz said.
People who live in adjoining states also want other gambling options, he said. Some want to buy lottery tickets, scratch tickets and maybe play video lottery or a table game, all at the same time.
In Oregon, the state lottery conducts a pair of raffles a year and they are very popular and successful, he said. Raffles may be added in Wyoming as well.
While earlier reports suggested the state hoped to bring in up to $20 million in revenue from the games, Clontz said it will fall short of that in its first 12 months.
He said a more likely scenario is for it to bring in $13 million to $17 million. He said more games are needed to hit the $20 million target.
After expenses, including start-up costs, paying off a $1 million loan and paying prizes — which will take up between 35 and 45 percent of revenue — $6 million would go to counties, cities and towns and the remaining amount to the common school account in the state land trust fund.
“It’s not going to be a whole lot in the first year or two,” Clontz said.
The technical side of the lottery is being handled by Intralot, a Greek gambling company with U.S. headquarters in suburban Atlanta. It is one of the three major gambling vendors in the nation. Intralot was chosen over GTECH and Scientific Games, and Clontz said he is impressed by his new partner.
Intralot will get 11.89 percent of sales, and for that it will provide the machinery, maintenance, training and marketing assistance. The WLC and Intralot agreed to a five-year deal, with three five-year options, on March 20.
The lottery bill will sunset after six years and must be reauthorized to continue. Attempts to create a lottery system in the state failed for nearly 30 years — Mike Enzi, before he was a U.S. senator, was a leading opponent. But that changed in 2013.
Wyoming was the 44th state to authorize a lottery, and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also allow such gambling. Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah and Nevada, which has allowed legalized gambling for close to a century, do not have lottery games.
Businesses can apply Wednesday
WyoLotto, as it is branded, will begin accepting applications from Wyoming retail business owners who want to sell tickets at their retail locations at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Applications will be available online at wyolotto.com.
Clontz said he thinks between 400 and 450 businesses will be allowed to sell lottery tickets. They will get to keep 6 percent of the sales and a bonus for winners they sold.
Some lotteries and states offer large bonuses for major winners, with stores getting a slice of multi-million-dollar prizes. Clontz said he doesn’t anticipate offering such bonuses at first, but that may change as WyoLotto gets more financially stable.
The businesses must be able to pay out up to $599 when winning tickets are presented to them. Larger winners will be paid out by the lottery.
The process to select what businesses will be allowed to sell lottery tickets is underway, Clontz said, and must be completed fairly soon.
He said fairness will be the goal as it’s decided who will be allowed to sell lottery tickets. As companies fill out the required forms, background investigations are conducted and other guidelines followed, it all will get sorted out.
“The process is going to determine that,” Clontz said.
But he said if there is a tough call to make, it will land on his desk.
Businesses can lose the right to sell lottery tickets if they repeatedly cannot pay winners, violate rules or have low sales. But he said the lottery wants to assist businesses and will not disqualify anyone for a minor problem or for failing to fill out an application properly.
“I can tell you we’re doing everything we can to make sure everyone has a fair chance,” Clontz said.
The lottery wants to ensure there are enough outlets in the bigger cities in the state, on areas bordering other states and in high-traffic areas, he said. Research will be conducted and a daily data check of sales will be studied.
“Every city, town and burg was looked at,” said Clontz, who has been traveling across the state repeatedly since he took the job in late 2013.
He said the introduction of lottery in Wyoming is expected to reduce sales in adjoining states, since Wyoming residents sometimes cross borders to buy tickets. Colorado and Nebraska are forecasting 10-percent drops in sales.
The Wyoming Lottery may see a boost from another state, he said, since gamblers from the Salt Lake City area may dash across the state line to buy some tickets.
“I think so,” Clontz said.
Army intelligence background
Clontz has a background in gambling, or “gaming,” as he and others who work in the field prefer to call it. He spent two years as the deputy director and chief operating officer for the Oregon Lottery before taking the post in Wyoming.
He is paid $160,000 a year, just a $3,000 increase from his job in Oregon and far less than another opportunity he had, he said. But Clontz said he and his wife Renee, a licensed respiratory therapist who sold an oxygen and specialty products business she had developed when they came here last fall, always liked Wyoming and looked forward to living here.
They bought 8.5 acres of land in Cheyenne, are having a house built and are setting down roots there. They have two sons, one 19 and one 4.
Clontz said he was also attracted to the idea of building the lottery from the ground up and is relishing the challenge.
“I really do. That’s what interested me initially,” he said. “It’s not something that comes around every day.”
Before he joined the Oregon Lottery, he worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington state for more than eight years. Clontz worked for a private long-term health care prior to that, where he opened a 120-bed care facility in Washington state.
Clontz also served six years in military intelligence in the Army, where he was stationed in forward-listening positions in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea, as well as in Alaska and Germany.
“Sort of like a scout,” he said. Clontz can speak Russian.
A San Antonio, Texas, native, he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in colleges in Washington state and also attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Tribune Publisher Dave Bonner, who is a member of the lottery board, sat in on part of the interview. Bonner said he feels Clontz is doing an excellent job getting statewide gambling up and running in Wyoming.
“It’s a terrific team,” he said. “He has put together a good team, and he always stresses that.”
That eight-member team works for the Wyoming Lottery Corporation. While it was established by the state, they are not considered state employees, Clontz said, and not a dime of state money is used. It’s a “quasi-governmental” agency, he said, and will depend on proceeds from its sales to function.
Those sales will start in three months. Getting everything ready for the Aug. 24 kickoff is a challenge, Clontz admits, but one he looks forward to meeting.