Will Carver To Replace Susan Lanigan As TELC Chair Following Resignation

The Tennessee Education Lottery will have a new look going forward after Board of Directors Chair Susan Lanigan on Wednesday announced her resignation, effective May 13. The announcement didn’t appear to come as a surprise to the board, although Lanigan’s term wasn’t set to end until 2024.

In announcing her resignation, Lanigan praised her fellow board members as “professional” and said they were a committed, hard-working group, but quipped that her husband “has been dying to buy a lottery ticket.” The timing could be fortuitous — Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot is currently at $430 million.

Lanigan drew plenty of praise from her fellow board members and staff, and TELC President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove referred to her as not only an asset to the TELC but as “her best friend.” Outside of the TELC, Lanigan is an executive vice president and general counsel for Dollar General Corp.

“First appointed in 2013, Susan became board chair the next year. She has been a steady voice asking the hard questions during the last eight years,” Hargrove said. “The Lottery – and Tennessee students – are better off because of her dedicated leadership, and we wish her all the best.”

Immediately after announcing her resignation, Lanigan nominated Will Carver to replace her, and the board concurred. John Crosslin was approved at the vice chair. Carver is a partner and litigation attorney at the Knoxville firm of Kramer Rayson LLP. Both he and Lanigan serve on the Sports Wagering Committee, as well as the regular board.

In another move, Chris Patterson resigned after being appointed to another board by the governor. The meeting was held in person for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Tennessee. Media and stakeholders could listen in via audio.

TELC reviewing five operator applications

Also at the meeting, Hargrove shared that the TELC is currently reviewing sports betting operator applications and on Tuesday had received “six boxes” of information from a fifth applicant. The TELC does not release the names of pending applicants, but peer-t0-peer wagering platform ZenSports announced in November that it had submitted an application. There are currently seven active platforms in Tennessee.

Though April revenue numbers have not formally been released, Hargrove announced handle of $172 million — the second-lowest monthly total since the TELC launched four operators on Nov. 1, 2020 — and tax revenue of $2.8 million. Tennessee operators have taken about $1.1 billion in bets in the first six months of legal sports betting.

Going forward, the TELC will continue to oversee sports betting, though new legislation, which has not yet been signed into law, will shift those duties to the nine-member Sports Advisory Council. In a meeting Tuesday, that group discussed hiring an executive director and additional staff, but it agreed that the TELC should continue vetting applicants and managing operators in the near term. Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign off on the legislation, which calls for the transition to happen on Jan. 1, 2022.

“We can all agree that the TEL did a phenomenal job, but that sports betting really does not belong with the lottery,” Lanigan said during the meeting. “There will be a lot of heavy lifting for the Advisory Council, but there is a burden on our current staff.”

Sports wagering council actions

Prior to the meeting, the Sports Wagering Committee met and approved a recommendation from the Sports Wagering Advisory Council that the TELC give notice to any licensee if it will be subject to disciplinary action, so the licensee will have a chance to respond prior to the next meeting.

In addition, the committee approved 11 new vendor licenses and four new supplier licenses.