Tennessee Education Lottery President Addresses Rotary Club
by Bob Augustin Jr.
Rebecca Paul Hargrove, President and CEO of the Tennessee Education Lottery, was the special guest speaker at the February 8, 2008 meeting of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club. Hargrove was the community affairs director of WICS-TV in Springfield, Illinois when she was named to head the Illinois State Lottery in 1985. She went on to be named the first director of Florida's lottery in 1987and then of Georgia's in 1993. In 2003, she was named president and CEO of the new Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, which began sales in January 2004.
Hargrove gave the club an overview of the history of lotteries in the United States. The first lottery in the U.S. was held in Virginia in 1608. Harvard, Princeton,and Yale Universities were all initially funded by lotteries. In 1812, Tennessee held a lottery to save a small college in east Tennessee which was about to close its doors due to lack of funds. That college would one day become the University of Tennessee. Hargrove said that 42 states plus the District of Columbia conduct lotteries. In 2007, lotteries in the United States raised $55 billion. To put this number in perspective, in 2007 the movie industry raised $9 billion and the entire music industry raised $21 billion.
To date, the Tennessee Education Lottery has raised over $1billion for education. By constitutional amendment, the funds raised by the Tennessee Lottery can only be used to fund the HOPE Scholarships which provides Tennessee students with assistance to attend institutions of higher learning in the state of Tennessee, Pre-Kindergarten programs, and After School Programs.
Hargrove said she is frequently asked why the Tennessee Education Lottery has been so successful. To be successful in the lottery business, one must is know three things: First, know why you are in business. The Lottery Commission is in business to market a consumer product which is in competition with Coca Cola, Snickers, Slim Jims, and all the other consumer products that are sold in the stores for the consumers' dollars. Second, know who are your customers. Hargrove stated that the retailers, that is, the owners of the stores who sell the lottery tickets, are her customers and it is her job to give them a good product to sell and to market the product for them. The retailers in turn sell the tickets to the general public. Third, know what the product is you are selling. Hardgrove said the product they are selling is integrity, that is, they are selling to the consumer the assurance that the lottery is being conducted in a fair and honest manner and that each consumer has as much chance of winning as any other participant.
Hargrove also said that the top seller of lottery tickets in the state is the State Line Package Store in St. Joseph and that she would be visiting the store after the meeting.