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March a Month of Records for TN Lottery

Press release from the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation; April 16, 2012:

NASHVILLE – Boosted by sales from a world-record jackpot and increasingly popular instant games, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation today announced record-setting totals for the Third Quarter of Fiscal Year 2012, including a whopping $89.96 million raised for state education programs, a 17 percent increase over the same quarter last fiscal year, and well above the previous record of $79.6 million set in the Third Quarter of Fiscal Year 2006.

Year-to-date, Lottery proceeds for education—the funds used for scholarships, grants and related programs—have now reached $234 million, up $22.44 million, or 10.6 percent, over this time last year.

When combined with Lottery funding for after-school programs— $87.1 million to date— the total Lottery funding for education-related programs now exceeds $2.3 billion since the Lottery’s inception in 2004.

Benefitting from the historic Mega Millions jackpot drawing, March figures were especially impressive, with total sales of nearly $142 million, the highest of any month since inception and surpassing the previous monthly sales record set in February by over $11 million, or 9 percent. The February totals, a record up to that point, were aided by sales from the successful introduction of the new Powerball game, which features bigger jackpots and better odds, among other changes.

The Mega Millions game, which culminated with the world’s all-time biggest jackpot of $656 million, also contributed to the best week and the best day in Tennessee Lottery history. The week ending March 31, 2012 produced total sales of $41 million, surpassing the previous record of $37. 4 million set in the week of February 11, 2012. And Friday March 30, 2012, the day of the winning Mega Millions drawing, showed total sales of $14.3 million, smashing the previous single day record of $10.8 million set on the Lottery’s first day of operations on January 20, 2004.

Through the end of the quarter, the three-month period ending March 31, 2012, drawing-style games such as Powerball, Mega Millions and Tennessee Cash are up 10.6 percent, producing $19,411,000 in additional sales. The strength of the Tennessee Lottery, however, continues to be the growing popularity of instant games (“scratch off”), which have grown by 10.4 percent, producing an additional $73,680,000 in sales over this point last year.

“We’re gratified that our approach to maximizing proceeds for the education programs is meeting with such success,” said Rebecca Hargrove, President and CEO of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. “We’ve worked to bring an array of fun and entertaining games to our lottery players, expand the retailer base, and prudently manage our overall operations.

Thankfully, it’s a strategy that makes for a great Lottery and continues to provide funding for thousands of students and their families all across the state.”

Last year the Lottery announced an all-time high transfer of $293.5 million to education programs in the state, an increase of $4.6 million over the previous record set the year before. The Lottery also reported a record-breaking $1.19 billion in total sales, which was a 4.2 percent increase over the previous record also set a year earlier.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the strength of this quarterly report and the overall direction of the Tennessee Lottery,” said Keith Simmons, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. “The innovative and business-like approach to the Lottery’s mission has put us on track for another record year, and I congratulate the team for their hard work and continued success.”

About the Tennessee Education Lottery

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation operates entirely from the revenue it generates through the sale of its products. Net proceeds from sales of Lottery tickets, currently averaging over $5.3 million per week, fund specific education programs, including college scholarships and after-school programs.

Since the Lottery began selling tickets on January 20, 2004, it has raised more than $2.3 billion for these programs. In addition to the educational beneficiaries, players have won over $5.2 billion in prizes and Lottery retailer partners have earned over $573 million in retailer commissions.

For more information, please visit www.tnlottery.com. For information about Lottery-funded scholarships, visit www.collegepaystn.com. To see a county-by-county breakdown of the number of students who benefit, visit www.seehowitaddsup.com.

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Press Releases

Wamp: Haslam Should Release Pilot Earnings from Education Lottery Tickets

Press Release from Zach Wamp, Republican Candidate for Governor; June 14, 2010:

Says Haslam Needs to Itemize, Address All Conflicts of Interest

NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for governor, today called on Mayor Bill Haslam to voluntarily disclose Pilot Corporation’s total earnings to date from the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation through sales of lottery tickets at its retail stores and to be fully open and transparent with the public about his personal finances and obvious conflicts of interest with state government.

The Tennessee Education Lottery has generated more than $6.5 billion in sales since its inception in 2004 and has paid out roughly $393 million in commissions and bonuses to its retailer partners, including the Haslam-owned Pilot Corporation and its subsidiary, Pilot Travel Centers.

Reports indicate that Haslam’s Pilot Corporation ranks fourth all-time among the Lottery’s top 25 corporate accounts in terms of gross sales and commissions from lottery tickets. In addition, Pilot Travel Centers is listed separately among the Lottery’s top 25 corporate accounts, and it has an employee who sits on the Lottery Retailer Advisory Board, which directly advises the Lottery’s governing Board of Directors on retailer issues.

“Bill Haslam’s growing list of conflicts with state government and the citizens of Tennessee as a result of his ownership of Pilot Oil raises serious questions about his ability to lead and make decisions in the best interest of Tennessee rather than his company’s bottom line,” Wamp said.

“Mr. Haslam has been asked repeatedly to be fully open and transparent about his personal income taxes and his many conflicts through Pilot Oil, but he has refused every time. So today, I call on Bill Haslam to fully and completely disclose and itemize each and every business dealing Pilot Corporation and its many partners and subsidiaries has with Tennessee state government, and how he intends to deal with each of those issues if he is elected Governor.”

Last week it was revealed that Pilot Travel Centers partners with and derives income from casino gambling operations in at least three states, including hundreds of 24-hour slot machines throughout Nevada. Mayor Haslam holds personal ownership licenses for video poker machines at Pilot Casinos in Louisiana linked directly to his home address in Knoxville. In addition, CVC Capital Partners, which purchased a 47.5 percent stake in Pilot Travel Centers in 2008, owns and operates major multi-national gambling interests.

The legalization of casino gaming machines, such as slot and video poker machines, has been promoted and adopted by several states across the country Last year, Illinois passed legislation legalizing casino gaming in bars, restaurants and truck stops there. The State of Illinois will receive 30 percent of the revenue from all such machines.

Wamp urged Haslam not to hand the Democrat Party such obvious campaign issues by joining the rest of the gubernatorial candidates and be fully open and transparent about his personal finances by releasing his recent federal tax returns with support schedules, as well as information detailing all business partnerships and remaining conflicts of interest with government through his ownership of Pilot Corporation.

Haslam remains the only gubernatorial candidate not to comply with a request by the Tennessee Newspaper Network to release copies of his federal tax returns from the last three years. As a result, taxpayers are left in the dark as to the size and scope of Haslam’s personal stake in Pilot Corporation, which pays a registered lobbyist to watch over its investments and lobby for government funding for the $16 billion company at the state Legislature in Nashville.

The Associated Press recently reported that Pilot Corporation received more than a half-million dollars in state taxpayer money between July 2007 and November 2009 to upgrade the company’s gas stations and increase its profits on the taxpayers’ dime.

Haslam was also forced to explain his personal stake in a $14 million downtown Knoxville real estate development in which he co-mingled his own money and family money with City of Knoxville funds on the profit-making deal. Haslam explained to reporters that his investment of $2 million was solely for civic reasons, despite the fact that he will reportedly earn a five percent annual profit over the next 40 years.

Yet Knoxville’s city charter expressly prohibits city employees from direct financial interest in the profits of city-financed projects:

From the city charter: “…It shall be unlawful for any member of council, member of the board of education, officer or employee of the city to have or hold any interest in the profits or emoluments of any contract, job, work or service, either by himself or by another, directly or indirectly…”

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Press Releases

Sen. Kyle Wants Action On Lottery Scholarship Funding Issues

Press Release from Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis; April 6, 2010:

Senate Committee Failure To Plug Gap Threatens Future Scholarships

NASHVILLE – Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis is calling on lawmakers to address an insolvent lottery scholarship fund after a Senate committee failed to plug a $13 million funding shortfall that threatens scholarship availability.

“This is the first step to reducing scholarships and denying accessibility for thousands of Tennessee students who depend on the lottery scholarship as their sole opportunity to attend college,” Kyle said. “This inaction threatens the ability to keep our promise to these students. The time to act is now.”

The Senate Education Committee voted 4-4-1 Wednesday on Senate Bill 3343 along party lines: Democrats for, Republicans against with one Republican abstaining. The bill would have transferred between $56 million and $91.4 million in lottery funds for energy efficient school projects to the scholarship fund.

Wednesday’s tie vote effectively kills the legislation unless the committee chair recalls the bill. The committee closed Wednesday evening.

Currently, the lottery scholarship fund will require the use of reserve money for a second straight year to cover existing scholarships. The continued use of such reserves could lead to a decrease in interest income that funds lottery scholarships – and a subsequent decrease in scholarships.

Kyle is urging lottery scholarship recipients to contact their state lawmakers to tell what they want done to shore up the scholarship fund. If the Education Committee doesn’t reconsider the energy efficiency funds transfer, Kyle will call for it when the 2010-11 budget legislation comes up for a vote.

“On our current course, we are going to leave state education officials no choice other than raising academic requirements and cutting both the number and amount of lottery scholarships,” Kyle said. “Lawmakers are crippling our children’s futures by sitting on their hands.”

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Press Releases

Ramsey Names Woodson Co-Chair Of Lottery Stabilization Task Force

Press Release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, March 30, 2010:

(Nashville) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today named Speaker Pro Tempore Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) Co-Chairman of the recently announced Lottery Stabilization Task Force. The task force will make recommendations to keep the scholarship program viable over time. Its initial focus will be to limit the use of lottery reserves and ensure the scholarships are there for students who earn them.

“Speaker Pro Tem Woodson has devoted her legislative career to improving the quality of education and access to education in Tennessee,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey (R-Blountville). “Her work on lottery scholarships, BEP 2.0 and the Race to the Top reforms make her the perfect Co-Chairman for the Lottery Stabilization Task Force.”

The Hope Scholarship is funded through lottery revenues and helps thousands of kids pay for college. Demand for scholarships has increased in recent years while lottery revenues have not kept pace. The state is using reserves to fill the hole now, which is expected to be more than $100 million in three years. The stabilization task force will look for ways to keep the program strong.

On the web:

http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/senate/speaker.html

http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s6.html