Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has decided to open an investigation into “potential HR irregularities” at the Ohio Lottery Commission after the resignation of Director Pat McDonald.
A spokesman from the governor’s office declined to elaborate on what the alleged irregularities could be.
Investigation is still in early stages of development
Before his sudden departure, McDonald had been with the Ohio Lottery for 16 years.
McDonald resigned in a two-sentence email to Stephanie McCloud, the governor’s chief of staff. McDonald wrote:
“This is to notify you that I am retiring from my position of Director of the State of Ohio Lottery Commission effective today, April 12, 2023, due to medical reasons. It has been a pleasure to serve the people of Ohio.”
According to an article by Cleveland.com, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said in an email that the governor’s office is still searching for a firm to lead the investigation. “The independent investigation will determine any Lottery staff involvement in any alleged irregularities.”
In the interim, DeWine appointed Michelle Gillcrist, who has been DeWine’s aerospace and defense liaison and Northeast Ohio regional liaison. Gillcrist will have to shepherd the commission through rebidding on its $45-million-per-year central gaming system contract.
Additionally, after years of discussion, the state aims to launch Ohio online lottery games.
Ohio gambling in February
In February, Ohio casinos and racinos reported $197 million in total gambling revenue. As for the state’s four casinos, they brought in a combined $82.6 million in February.
Jessica Franks, director of communications for the Ohio Casino Control Commission, said:
“The growth of casino gaming in Ohio is something that we’ve seen pretty much year over year. It was trending that way. And then, of course, the pandemic year was a little bit of an aberration due to the shutdown.”
However, despite the early 2023 success, Robert Gitter, a professor of Economics Emeritus at Ohio Wesleyan University, said revenue could have little impact on the state’s economy.
“Casino gambling has not been this windfall for education here in Ohio,” Gitter said.
“Nor has it really stimulated, nor has it really resulted in much additional tax revenue. I think the people benefiting from it are those people that are stockholders in the corporations. I think those people benefiting from it are people that are getting jobs there.”