Del. Ben Cline (R-24th) announced Thursday he had received confirmation of recent actions by Virginia Lottery employees in which luxury skybox suite seats reserved for winners of the “Redskins Legacy” game were misused by Lottery staff.
He also announced that he would be asking for an independent audit of the Virginia Lottery at the next General Assembly session.
”For years, the Virginia Lottery has been playing fast and loose with millions of dollars that should go toward education but instead are spent on layers of administrative bureaucracy and private licensing agreements,” says Cline. “Now we learn that these agreements, one of which includes luxury skybox seats at Washington Redskins games as prizes, are being abused by Lottery employees. Lottery revenues should be going to fund education, not to line the pockets of advertising executives or to provide perks for Lottery employees. Virginia's school children deserve better.”
Earlier this year, a story ran on the Internet blog “Not Larry Sabato” alleging the use of a luxury suite at the Redskins’ season opener this year by Virginia Lottery officials.
Cline wrote to the Lottery to request details about the Redskins Legacy game, and he was informed in an email response from Lottery Director Paula Otto that one of the prizes was in fact the use of a luxury skybox for a Redskins home game.
However, when questioned in more detail about the use of the luxury skybox, Otto also confirmed that the suite was not occupied during the Redskins home opener by a Redskins Legacy game winner, but instead by Lottery staff.
”At a time when we are being forced to make difficult decisions about funding for education in Virginia, it is disheartening to learn that Lottery revenues intended for our schools are being misused by the staff of the Lottery Department,” says Cline. “I plan to file a budget amendment in the upcoming General Assembly session for a full and independent audit of the Virginia Lottery, and I hope it will receive bipartisan support as we strive to fully fund our public schools in Virginia.”
An official with Virginia Lottery released a statement responding to Cline's questions:
"As Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto noted in the e-mail to Del. Cline, one of the prizes offered by the 'Redskins Legacy' scratch game is the use of a suite at FedExField for the winner and 19 of his or her friends. At the first game of the season, when there had not yet been a validated winner of this prize, the box was used by the Lottery as a staging area for an on-field presentation. The halftime event highlighted the $4.8 billion the Lottery has generated for K-12 public education since 1999. We believe that was a logical use of the box, which would otherwise have been empty.
"Scratcher games using licensed properties, such as “Redskins Legacy,” routinely perform an average of 17 percent better than other games, and have repeatedly proven to be a good investment for the Commonwealth. So far this game has generated $14.6 million in sales.
"The Lottery is audited each year by the independent Auditor of Public Accounts, as required by statute, as well as by its internal audit department. We would welcome a further audit if the General Assembly deems it appropriate."