Lottery executive director leaving after 7 years

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR who has steered the Massachusetts Lottery through its most profitable years and pushed to modernize the agency is departing next month for a job in the private sector.

Michael Sweeney, who has led the Lottery since 2015, informed Treasurer Deb Goldberg in a letter this week that he intends to resign from his position effective March 8. He said  he has accepted a new job, but did not say where or what position he would hold.

“Seven years is long enough for one individual to lead a major public agency, particularly given the organizational transformation of the Massachusetts State Lottery over that time period,” Sweeney wrote in the letter. “The current Lottery is strong, modernizing, and positioned for future growth. With 70 percent of the current fiscal year completed, the Lottery is on track to once again set records for overall sales and profits.”

Before 2016, Sweeney said, the Mass. Lottery had never turned a profit of $1 billion or more for the Legislature to dole out as aid to cities and towns across Massachusetts. But since fiscal year 2017, the Lottery has set and broken numerous sales and profit records and has topped the $1 billion mark three times. The agency is expected again to generate at least $1 billion for local aid this fiscal year.

“I want to thank Michael for his countless contributions to the Massachusetts State Lottery over the last seven years, and am grateful for his prior service at the State Treasurer’s Office,” Goldberg, who oversees the Lottery, said. “I wish him well in all his future endeavors.”

Goldberg said she has appointed Mark William Bracken to serve as interim executive director of the Lottery as she begins a search for a more permanent leader for the agency. Bracken has worked in the Treasury since 2011. He is currently an assistant treasurer and director of the state’s Unclaimed Property Division.

During his time leading the Lottery, Sweeney oversaw the move of the Lottery from its longtime headquarters in Braintree to Dorchester, the retirement of the large old blue Lottery terminals and the installation of more than 7,500 new retail terminals, the adoption of new policies meant to crack down on ticket cashers who help winners avoid tax or child support payments, and the implementation of a ticket scanning and prize claiming app, which Sweeney said was “the most significant lottery advancement since the introduction of instant tickets in the 1970s.”

Meet the Author
Sweeney was not able as executive director to secure the authorization for the Lottery to sell its products online, something he and Goldberg have vocally advocated for years. At various times, Sweeney compared the Lottery without an online presence to an old rotary phone — “revolutionary in its time” but also “a little bit clunky” — and to the Titanic — “We have been doing very well, but what I like to remind people is that the night before the Titanic hit the iceberg, it was setting a new record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.”

Before joining the Lottery, initially as an interim executive director who was to assist with the search for a permanent leader, Sweeney had served as deputy general counsel for the Massachusetts State Treasury since 2010. He previously worked as planning director in Lawrence, where he also served on the city council. Sweeney is a Lawrence native and is an alumnus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and City University of New York Law School.