The Winner of the S.C. Lottery Remains in Dispute

Another controversy has erupted in South Carolina’s three-year attempt to establish a lottery.

Officials at the state’s procurement office overturned a September decision to award the $7.5 million ad account to Erwin-Penland. Instead, they handed the business to Rawle Murdy Associates.

Rawle Murdy in Charleston, S.C., essentially demanded a review of the “scoring” that underpinned the board’s Sept. 26 decision to award the account to Erwin-Penland of Greenville, S.C.

“The methods used to calculate compensation to the agency just didn’t make sense,” said Rawle Murdy president Bruce Murdy.

His agency, Murdy said, filed a protest, arguing that the state officials had incorrectly scored the bids.

After a hearing, state chief procurement officer Voight Shealy agreed, saying the method used to calculate cost “did not result in a valid determination of the actual cost proposed” by the competing shops.

The lottery, a highly politicized attempt to raise funds for education in the state, has had a troubled history. A good number of South Carolina’s fundamentalist ministers vehemently opposed the plan. In 1998, Governor Jim Hodges ran on a pro-lottery platform.

The controversy is far from over. Erwin-Penland has now appealed the board’s decision. In a statement, E-P president Joe Erwin argued that “our proposal struck the appropriate balance among the judging criteria and offered the best overall value.”

Sources are suggesting a final decision may come as soon as next week, but the appeals process allows the state up to 45 days to issue a decision. Such a delay could hamper the lottery’s target kick-off date of Jan. 7.

“The state’s already getting plenty of free advertising,” said David Quiat, a South Carolina services procurement manager, “But they need to put a face on the lottery.”