The Lotto Matrix: Alabama Gambling Bill Goes To Conference Committee, Colorado Lottery Hires New Player Health Manager, More

Christian Holmes

lottery results roundup

Welcome to this week’s “Lotto Matrix,” a weekly Friday compilation of the lottery industry’s most significant, interesting, or absurd happenings.

Alabama bills head to conference committee

The fight continues in earnest. It was announced on Thursday that Alabama lawmakers will be bringing the state’s gambling legislation to a conference committee. By taking the legislation to a committee, the hope is policymakers can find a middle ground when it comes to divisions over sports betting and the number of casino sites.

Unsurprisingly, Alabama’s House of Representatives voted Thursday to reject Senate changes to gambling legislation, which made it almost exclusively focused on legalizing the lottery. Policymakers in the House want casinos and sports betting to be included in the final product of the legislation.

Rep. Chris Blackshear, the bill’s House sponsor, told representatives that the Senate was leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue “on the floor” with the trimmed-down bill. Blackshear was optimistic lawmakers could reach an agreement, but he also stated the obvious: There is a vast difference between what the two chambers approved and what they want going forward.

“I think we’ve got to identify what that middle ground is first because it’s such a distance between the two. They’re not even close bookends. So we’ve got to first off establish what that middle ground looks like and then have those conversations,” Blackshear said.

House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter said in a statement that he was hopeful that policymakers could iron something out: “If one thing has been made clear throughout this process, it’s that the people of Alabama want and deserve an opportunity to vote on this issue.”

Let the Hunger Games begin.

Colorado gets serious about player safety

Representatives from the Colorado Division of Gaming and the Colorado Lottery gave speeches last week at an event at the capitol building, largely revolving around the efforts being made to increase responsible gambling resources for customers. To further drive home the dedication to the cause, Tom Seaver, director of the Colorado Lottery, announced the agency hired a full-time player health manager, Amanda Quintana.

“Player health manager” may seem like a broad title, but as Seaver explained to the crowd, Quintana’s main job is to keep the lottery honest by continuing to evolve the state’s responsible gambling program. Another one of her duties will be to promote safe play.

With the industry’s overall demand for more robust responsible gambling measures, Seaver said that the Colorado Lottery wants to get out ahead of this.

“We are trying to be part of the solution,” he said. “We recognize we are part of the gambling environment in Colorado, so we want to do our part in making sure people are aware of the resources.

“We aren’t sponsoring a bill, we don’t have any specific legislation. It’s more about just when problem gambling is discussed, whether it’s something that we bring up or our partners bring up, that they know what we are talking about.

“Around the nation, the incidence of problem gambling is one or two percent. But if you start thinking of that in the six-degrees-of-separation way, I think people watching this story have a very good chance of thinking, ‘Boy, I should talk to Uncle Bob about that.’”

Arkansas Scholarship Lottery ED exits

Last week, Eric Hagler announced in a letter to Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Jim Hudson that he would be stepping down from his role as executive director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.

Hagler has been on the job since August 2020. During his tenure, he has tried to grow the lottery — although some of his detractors have said he did the opposite. The lottery’s revenue in fiscal year 2023 totaled $608.2 million, falling slightly behind the $632.5 million collected in FY 2021. 

In Hagler’s resignation letter, he wrote, “Since August 2020, it has been my honor to serve the State of Arkansas and its citizens. I am also thankful for the opportunity to have worked with an outstanding team of individuals who are committed to the Arkanas Lottery’s mission of Maximizing Net Proceeds in a Responsible Manner.”

The interesting thing about Hagler’s letter is that he did not state a reason for departing.

Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, said, “Secretary Hudson did not make a request for his resignation. Secretary Hudson and Eric never discussed the subject. We wish him the best as he pursues new opportunities and appreciate his service to the state.”

$1.08 billion winner from 2023 ID’d

California Lottery officials have, some eight months after the fact, revealed the winner of a $1.08 billion Powerball jackpot from the summer of 2023. Yanira Alvarez is that lucky winner of Powerball’s third-largest prize ever. 

According to lottery officials, Alvarez bought the holy grail of lottery tickets at Las Palmitas Mini Market in downtown Los Angeles. Alvarez’s win last July ended a 39-draw jackpot drought for Powerball — similar to the 40-draw run Powerball is on currently. The triumph was actually the first of two straight for California players, as three months later, a $1.8 billion Powerball ticket was sold at Midway Market in Frazier Park.

California law requires that a jackpot winner must have their name and general location announced.

Always check your tickets!

For almost a year, Merel Chiasson, from New Brunswick in Canada, had a 6/49 Gold Ball winning ticket valued at $64 million (CAD) sitting on his dresser. The ticket was due to expire in a little over a week.

The winning Gold Ball jackpot was drawn on April 15, 2023, and Chiasson had no idea his ticket was a winner because it was mixed in with a few other tickets, most of which were losers. 

“I’ve always done it like that, and I never thought I would win big, so I left the tickets there and didn’t worry too much about it,” he said, according to a press release issued by local lottery officials.

Chiasson said would never even have thought to check his tickets if the Atlantic Lottery had not created a commercial for his area encouraging people to check their tickets. 

“We didn’t give up hope that we were going to be able to meet them,” Molly Cormier, director of brand and communications with Atlantic Lottery, told CTV News Atlantic. “We put out public awareness. We were constantly trying to remind the public to check their tickets. We’re just so over the moon excited that it’s concluded in this way.”

If Chiasson hadn’t collected, the money would have gone back into Atlantic Lottery’s prize pool.

Moral of the story: Always check your tickets. A few seconds of effort can prevent a $64 million mistake. 

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