FLASH: New lottery director may change computerized Megaplier to real lottery ball drawing, expert says computerized drawings flawed
Anthony Sadberry, a longtime Houston attorney who led a reorganization of the Texas Lottery in the past five months as acting director, was named the agency's permanent head Wednesday.
Sadberry's hiring was widely expected among agency observers and staff, many of whom have praised his straightforward and hands-on approach.
Commission Chairman C. Tom Clowe Jr. said in a news release that Sadberry brings "a long and distinguished record of public service to his new job, as well as an intimate knowledge of how this agency works."
Sadberry was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Ann Richards in 1993 to serve on the three-member commission that oversees the lottery. He served from 1993 to 2000, including a brief stint as chairman.
"During his tenure as a commissioner, his keen insights provided all of us with serious and steady guidance, and I expect no less from him now that he will be at the helm of the agency," Clowe said. "I'm extremely pleased that he has accepted the job."
Sadberry's hiring ends a nearly yearlong, nationwide search for an executive director for the troubled $3 billion agency.
The lottery has been without a permanent leader since July, when former Executive Director Reagan Greer resigned after admitting he approved inflated Texas Lotto jackpot estimates recommended by his staff.
The jackpot scandal was followed by employee complaints of poor morale, mismanagement and firing practices that led to lawsuits.
Sadberry has said he wants to restore stability at the agency and show employees he's committed to changes he's made, including restoration of the lottery's enforcement division and increasing his oversight while limiting the roles of top subordinates.
At a salary of $114,996, Sadberry began his duties immediately. A former assistant attorney general of Texas, Sadberry also was a member of the Houston office of the New York law firm Epstein, Becker and Green. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and obtained a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.
Gerald Busald, a San Antonio College math professor who served on a search committee for the new director, said the committee unanimously recommended Sadberry.
"From what I've gathered talking to a couple of employees, they are very happy with him," he said. "I think the overall tone of how things are going there is going to be better."
Busald said the commission itself seemed more receptive Wednesday to some constructive criticism he offered at a meeting.
One of his criticisms involved the program that picks the prize multiplication factor for the state's Megaplier game. Megaplier multiplies non-jackpot winnings in the multistate Mega Millions game by a factor of two, three or four.
Busald suggested commissioners replace the computer program, which is supposed to generate numbers randomly, with a ball drop because he thinks the program is picking the number 2 too infrequently.
There's a 91 percent chance the program isn't working correctly, he said.
Bobby Heith, a lottery spokesman, said agency officials asked the math professor to submit his research to the lottery's operations director for review. He said Busald's comments were "very well-received by the commission" and that the vendor of the program may be consulted on the issue.