Penn. Ready to Award a Slots Monitoring Contract

Central-control system controls slots, rather than watching them

Last month's announcement of new ties between International Game Technology and Scientific Games surprised some lawmakers and even Gov. Rendell, who had met privately with the company in November 2003 to discuss the central system during a gambling conference at Mountaineer Raceway in West Virginia.

As Rendell left the meeting, he assured reporters that International Game Technology had no interest in supplying the computer system and noted that the company had recently sold off the division that made the systems for Scientific Games.

But after reassuring Rendell, lawmakers and bill writers that it had no interest in the central-control system, International Game Technology reversed course in January, announcing its alliance with Scientific Games.

At least one other bidder for the computer system is opposing the selection process, alleging that the Revenue Department did not fairly consider its proposal. While the gambling law, in the interest of time, exempted the state from following standard bidding procedures, the Revenue Department followed many of the guidelines for competitive bidding.

The company, Utilistar Process Automation, which supplies a type of central-control machine overseeing 20,000 machines in Louisiana, protested the bid process, saying revenue officials failed to research alternatives to the central system, failed to ask enough questions of the vendors, and did not properly evaluate the company, according to a letter dated Jan. 27 that they sent to Revenue Secretary Gregory Fajt.

"It seemed to us like they had made their mind up ahead of time," said Geoff Humphreys, Utilistar's founder and vice president.

Revenue Department spokesman Steve Kniley said of Utilistar's complaint: "You can't protest something that hasn't happened yet."