Local News

Lottery director quits to take job with vendor

Posted August 16, 2010 2:18 p.m. EDT
Updated August 16, 2010 6:37 p.m. EDT

— Tom Shaheen, who has headed the North Carolina Education Lottery since its inception four years ago, has resigned his post to take a job with a company involved in the sale of lottery tickets through ATMs.

Shaheen said Monday that he will be vice president of business development for Linq3, a software company that has a program that allows lottery tickets to be sold through point-of-sale terminals like automated teller machines for distribution in the U.S. and abroad. His last day at the lottery will be Sept. 17.

"It just appeals to a person like me who has a tendency to get bored easily. I'm just excited about it. I like their idea," he said.

When Shaheen was hired in 2005, the lottery hadn't yet sold a ticket, and they were mired in controversy. The games arrived after a Senate vote that some lottery opponents said was illegal and after conflict-of-interest questions led to federal corruption charges against lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings.

"When I came in the door, it was like, 'Am I welcome or am I not?'" he said with a laugh.

Under Shaheen’s leadership, the lottery was able to organize and launch its operations within four months, with the first tickets sold in March 2006.

Over time, he weathered complaints that sales were too low and skeptics who said the games preyed on the poor. The lottery has posted four consecutive years of growth in tickets sales, officials said, and it exceeded expectations in sales and revenues in each of the last two years.

Shaheen also served as a national leader on lottery issues. He recently completed a term as president of the Multi-State Lottery Association, an organization of 33 state lotteries that assist in the operations of the PowerBall and Mega Millions jackpot games.

Linq3 hopes to tap those contacts to build its business, he said. State law forbids him from selling the company's software to North Carolina for at least a year.

As Shaheen leaves, he expressed pride in the lottery his team has built and hope that his legacy will be a well-run revenue producer for public education.

"I think we gave those who are in favor of the lottery exactly what they expected, and hopefully we gave those who aren't in favor of the lottery at least some feeling it's being run properly," he said.

Alice Garland, the lottery's deputy executive director for legislative and corporate communications, was named acting director on Monday and will head the lottery until a new director is named, officials said.