The South Carolina Education Lottery Board of Commissioners is gearing up to find a new leader. Earlier this month Lottery Executive Director Ernie Passailaigue was tabbed to be the point man to start up a new state lottery in Arkansas. For his move, Passailaigue will be receiving a hefty bump in salary. Arkansas lawmakers last week approved paying Passailiague $324,000. His current salary in South Carolina is $227,000.
Passailaigue says he is eligible for his 28 year retirement next June and he had planned on announcing at his annual evaluation in July that he would be retiring next year. Passailaigue says it tough to leave his native South Carolina, but the challenge facing him in Arkansas has rejuvenated him.”This just came along and a combination of events made it something that was hard to turn down. Not just in terms of the obvious compensation, which is always an issue, but the other parts of this is really dealing with a challenge that may be we can do something special in Arkansas, too.”
Passailaigue says he is proud of the success of the Education Lottery and it could not have been done without a dedicated team of professionals.
Passailaigue says recalling the days of building the lottery from scratch beginning in 2001, he knows that in his new job he will again have to muster up the tremendous energy and focus to build a successful lottery in Arkansas.
“You’re basically looking at a commitment of at least six to nine months of your life you can just peel off the calendar and just understand that you don’t have a personal life. You have to take nine months of your life span and says this is going to be devoted 24-7 to this enterprise.”
Passailaigue says his new enterprise will be called the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery because all the net proceeds by state constitution must go toward college scholarships.
Passailaigue says his team in South Carolina has built a world class lottery. Passailaigue points out that the first estimates by the Board of Economic Advisors was that in its best year the lottery would gross a half billion dollars a year. Passailaigue says this year the lottery will gross over a billion dollars. Also before the start up of the North Carolina Lottery, in 2006 the South Carolina Education Lottery grossed well over a billion.
“We grossed $1.145 billion. Net obviously is important because that’s what the educational programs are all about. If you look at the educational programs we’ve funded, it is over $2.25 billion dollars since start up in January 2002. We have succeeded expectations.”
Passailaigue adds that the South Carolina Edcuation lottery ranks seventh in the world by La Fleur’s magazine for per capita instant ticket sales.