THE INITIAL sports-betting competition in New Hampshire that went to fantasy sports giant DraftKings and lottery technology leader Intralot has ended one of the most closely-watched and most secret Requests For Proposals in recent history.

State lottery officials, legislative officials and state contract administrators say it must be that way to preserve integrity.

Kevin Landrigan

That doesn’t mean all 13 bidders agree it’s been a top-notch contest to date.

Michele “Mike” Ciavarella is CEO of Newgioco, a worldwide sports betting business that has, for two decades, played a major role in sports betting in Italy. It got half the score DraftKings did, tied for ninth among the 13 bidders and Ciavarella can’t comprehend it.

“I have participated in many RFPs in many industries and this has to be the worst one I have ever seen,” Ciavarella said. “An RFP for a sports-betting process is not a popularity contest and I cite Draft-Kings as that example.

“Our company has been in the industry for 20 years. And our score makes it look like we got into the business last week.”

Lottery Commission Chairman Debra Douglas said the RFP law requires the process remain secret while final terms are negotiated.

“Upon completion of the RFP and contract approval process by governor & council, the entire process becomes public for inspection, specific to who responded, the review process, and responses under the Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A),” Douglas said in a statement.

“The New Hampshire Lottery is built on integrity and we have a confidential and comprehensive process in place designed to identify the best vendor or vendors to support our expansion into sports betting.”

State Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, spent three years refining the RFP process after a NH Liquor Commission warehouse contract led to lawsuits. The state ended up settling for $2.5 million with the losing, incumbent warehouse vendor. The Supreme Court in 2018 did dismiss the second-place finisher’s lawsuit, which charged the process was rife with corruption.

“In the past the bidders were not getting enough satisfactory information for why they weren’t given the contract,” Carson said. “We spent a lot of time on this and tried to make it as fair and as transparent as possible and we continue to keep looking for how to improve it.”

Department of Administrative Services Administrator Mike Connor served on a Carson-led commission that produced a 100-page report.

“I believe the process is still ongoing,” Connor said. “There was some concern there were no real central guidelines and process.”

But Ciavarella predicted once sports betting begins in January, state officials will realize that limiting the business to one vendor does not maximize profit to the state or produce big payouts to the gamblers.

“We compete against all the major players in the market and when you start to pigeonhole and only allow DraftKings and Intralot into the market, you are not going to get the best deal,” he said.

There will be a rematch in Senate District 11

Former State Sen. Gary Daniels, a Milford Republican, plans to make official on Nov. 14 that he seeks a rematch with Sen. Shannon Chandley, D-Amherst, who unseated him by 1,100 votes last November.

Daniels, a former Senate Finance chairman, has hired Dan Passen, former chairman of the NH College Republicans, as his campaign consultant.

“Like many of you, I have watched with grave concern as our current Democrat-controlled Legislature, including my state senator, has voted time and time again to strip away the New Hampshire Advantage,” Daniels said.

This one won’t be easy. Chandley raised the second-most money of any State Senate candidate in 2018. Gov. Chris Sununu is said to be all in on this one as a key domino needing to fall if the GOP is going to take back the upper chamber.

Gardner gets communications savvy

Secretary of State Bill Gardner has always been his best spokesman but for the first time ever he is hiring someone to do communication, social media and marketing work for the office.

Jessica Eskeland started this week after six years as a public policy specialist with the N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Before that, she worked four years for the State Senate.

Eskeland helped roll up a string of policy successes for NHCADSV.

Most national reporters will tell you there isn’t a more media-friendly state agency in America than Gardner’s current staff team but those already on board welcome Eskeland to the crew.

Feltes lands Nashua political icon

State Rep. David Cote, D-Nashua, is coming up on 40 years in the House if he runs and wins again in 2020, as he’s likely to do representing the downtown Ward 4.

Cote is becoming the 79th House member to endorse Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, for governor.

“I’m supporting Dan for governor because of his unrelenting commitment to fairness and equal access to justice. Whether as a legal aid attorney or in the State House, Dan has stood up for those left out and left behind,” Cote said.

“With Dan as governor, we’ll remove barriers to the ballot box and ensure that our democracy is protected from gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the influence of money in our elections.”

Three left to fill us in

We’re down to three major candidates who still have yet to say when they will file for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. They are U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, D-Texas, along with former governor and Congressman Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

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