The Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC) has begun searching for a new CEO following a rough patch that included a slow online lottery roll-out and the loss of its sports betting partner. Current president Greg Smith came on to help the Lottery amidst another challenging period in 2018 but plans to retire next year.
Christopher Davis, the Lottery’s Manager for Government Relations and Responsible Gaming, told Connecticut Public that Smith’s retirement is not a surprise. Board members have been aware of his impending departure for some time.
When Smith joined CLC, it had been without a CEO for 16 months and struggling to retain staff. It was also under investigation by Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection, which now regulates online gambling in the state.
Connecticut’s 2021 gambling expansion effort has caused new problems for the agency. It has faced scrutiny and frustrated residents due to the long time it has taken to begin online lottery sales as allowed by the 2021 bill. It now says that online sales will begin late this fall.
The same bill also allowed the Lottery to operate a sportsbook-only online gambling platform. However, the CLC’s partner Rush Street Interactive (RSI) decided to pull out of the market just two years into a 10-year deal.
In an unrelated issue, technical difficulties with retail lottery terminals have resulted in angry players whose winning tickets were rejected.
Last week, the lottery board voted to assign the search for a new CEO to its executive committee, formally beginning the process. There’s no indication of who might be on the shortlist, but they have over a year to make a selection.
After Many Promises Online Lottery Is Launching This Fall
Connecticut legalized online Lottery alongside sports betting and tribal iGaming. Many expected the launch to be simultaneous as well. However, the CLC would not even commit to a launch date for well over a year.
That finally changed in June 2023 when the CLC announced its plan to launch iLottery in late fall. It said it had chosen to stick with its retail technology partner, International Game Technology (IGT), in a deal that would run until 2031.
The terms of the Connecticut online lottery law will allow players to purchase draw tickets, but not e-Instants, which might compete with the Connecticut online casinos. Available draws include multi-state games like Powerball and Mega Millions and local games like Lotto!, Cash5, Play3 with Wild Ball, and Play4 with Wild Ball.
There will be one fast play option for players who don’t want to wait for a draw: online Keno.
Connecticut will join seven other states in having a draw-only online lottery:
- New York*
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
*by subscription only
Meanwhile, eight states and the District of Columbia offer instant online lotteries. One more is coming soon, as North Carolina has just announced its intention to bring its Lottery online.
Technical Issues Have Left Many CT Lottery Players Angry
On July 31, the Lottery announced that it had been experiencing a technical error with its machines. As a result, the devices would falsely claim that certain winning tickets had already been redeemed for their prizes.
The agency asked people to hold on to their tickets or have them manually checked. CLC said that anyone unable to claim a prize on their winning ticket due to the error would need to contact lottery headquarters.
The CLC claims that only “18 out of 18 million tickets” were affected. Even so, news of failure to pay out prizes never goes over well with the gambling public. It also isn’t the first time the Lottery has experienced problems with the machines. Starting last June, the system has experienced repeated outages resulting in the interruption of sales.
CLC Is Looking for a New Sports Betting Partner
Under their 10-year deal, RSI had guaranteed a $170 million revenue share for CLC. However, the operator must have realized that might not be feasible. While the company reported a 20% increase in revenue in Q1 2023 and improved net income, Connecticut numbers were not where RSI had possibly imagined.
The operator has struggled to catch up with the state’s two Indian tribes’ partners, DraftKings and FanDuel. In June, Connecticut collected $84,631 in tax revenue from RSI. In comparison, FanDuel generated $501,970, while DraftKings contributed $329,091.
RSI is still operating in the state while the Lottery finds a new partner. According to Davis, the agency chose a partner in June and is currently negotiating terms. Potential partners could include Penn National, which was a bidder in 2021. The company recently announced a branding deal with Connecticut-based ESPN.
Another potential partner could be Fanatics Sportsbook, which had previously said it aims to be live in as many states as possible. Other 2021 bidders included MGM Resorts and Caesars. But under the deal between the state and the tribes, no casino-based sportsbook could operate under their name, a condition mainly aimed at BetMGM.