Lottery Chief Comes a Callin’

New Iowa Lottery President and CEO Terry Rich stopped by this morning to meet with The Gazette’s edit board. The highlights:

Lottery Lease Proposal — Rich said Gov. Chet Culver has told him that a proposal for leasing the lottery to private business interests in exchange for a pot of upfront cash isn’t going anywhere. It was Culver who originally met with interested parties floating the idea as a way to raise quick money amid worsening budget woes.

Rich and Mary Neubauer, the lottery’s VP and chief Statehouse watcher, said there is little or no support at the Capitol for an “immediate sale.”

Still, Rich said he’s having lottery staff run numbers that will allow him to evaluate the agency’s value in light of the high-profile lease discussion. That’s probably smart, because nothing is ever dead at the Statehouse until lawmakers are on their way out the door in April.

What’s New — Rich, who previously ran Des Moines’ Blank Park Zoo and was a longtime cable TV executive, said he wants to focus on improving the lottery’s existing products. Any new games would be within the framework of scratch tickets, Powerball or pull tabs, which are already “socially acceptable” in Iowa.

He’s not interested in bringing back TouchPlay, which was not acceptable to many Iowans, including most state lawmakers.

Rich also wants the lottery’s marketing to not only sell its products but also promote Iowa towns, attractions, businesses etc. He believes the lottery’s aggressive marketing efforts can have broader benefits.

Powerball — The televised drawings have been moved to Florida. But the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the game, is still headquartered in Urbandale, Iowa.

Iowa has had six Powerball jackpot winners, which is a lot considering that Iowans make up just 3 percent of Powerball players.

Rich said he was going to play Powerball one more time on the Friday before he took over as CEO, just for old time’s sake. But the attorney general’s office told him that would be a no-no for a gubernatorial appointee. So he’s in charge, but he can’t play.

First Check — Rich gave out his first big check to a $100,000 winner ($70,000 after taxes) from Waterloo. He said the couple has six kids. The wife said they would spend it. The husband said save it.


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