Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

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June 24, 2014

Lottery director promotes the good in gaming

INDIANAPOLIS – The state lottery produces a multitude of losing tickets every week, but its director has a message that she hopes will make people feel better about their odds.

Sarah Taylor is tapping years as a local government leader to sell the virtues of the Hoosier Lottery. Hired seven months ago to lead the lottery into its 25th year, she is touring the state to promote the civic good in Indiana’s oldest form of state-sanctioned gambling.

While meeting mayors, speaking to service groups and taking the stage during breaks of the traveling “Hoosier Millionaire” game show, Taylor talks up the lottery proceeds that flow back to state and local government.

“Everybody wins,” she says.

Since the lottery’s inception in 1989, more than $4.2 billion has gone into the pension funds of firefighters, police officers and teachers and into the Build Indiana Fund that pays for big-ticket projects in communities.

“As we’ve built our brand, we’ve realized how important that message is to get out,” said Taylor, a former Marion County clerk and aide to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

There’s nothing new about selling the lottery as good for Indiana. Its backers had to convince voters in 1988 that it was a stable source of revenue to overcome a coalition of church-based opponents.

But there’s now renewed emphasis on the message as the lottery’s private partner increases efforts to grow revenues and bring new players into the game.

Hired in late 2012 to market the lottery and manage its games, GE Tech launched an aggressive campaign promoting it as a dream-maker. The “Imagine That” campaign encouraged people to consider how they would spend their winnings – without mentioning the long-shot odds of hitting the jackpot (about 1 in 12 million for the Hoosier Lotto).

Lottery revenues are up: Fiscal year 2013 set a record and produced about $228 million for state and local governments. This year is projected to be even better, with an anticipated $248 million return.

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