COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio's lottery director resigned Tuesday from a rocky tenure serving in Gov. Ted Strickland's cabinet, as the state tries to expand the lottery to include video slot machines at horse racing tracks.
Dolan did not say why he's leaving in his resignation letter to Strickland, other than to say that he had thought about the direction of the lottery, including the new policy for slot machines.
"My reflection has led me to conclude that the best interests of the Lottery and the state, as well as mypersonal interests, would be best served by passing the Lottery "baton" so that the next leg of the race can be completed freshly," Dolan said.
Dolan will continue to serve as lottery director until Strickland makes a new appointment.
Dolan's rocky tenure included being cited in an Ohio Inspector general report for sending free lottery tickets to a state trooper who had pulled him over for driving without a front license plate and found that he wasn't wearing seat belt. The trooper let him off with verbal warnings.
Dolan sent 100 instant tickets to the trooper. In response to the Inspector General report, Dolan said he regretted that his actions reflected poorly on the lottery but stopped short of saying he did anything wrong.
Dolan also appeared unprepared to answer questions during hearings held by Senate Republicans to evaluate Strickland's slots plan.
Additionally, there were questions about the truthfulness with which Dolan dealt with state lawmakers who were evaluating lottery contracts.
Some lawmakers on a state panel were disgruntled late last year after finding out that Dolan withheld from them information about whether the agency had chosen a new vendor to operate a new lottery game called Keno.
Dolan acknowledged during court testimony that he declined to share the information about the vendor with the lawmakers, some of whom viewed it as key to their decision about the future of the game.
"It's unfortunate, but I do believe that Director Dolan had lost the confidence, certainly of myself, but also a number of Republicans," said state Rep. Jay Hottinger, a Newark Republican who has heard Dolan testify as a member of the state Controlling Board.
"I know members of the General Assembly had questioned his ability to move forward as director of the agency, given the fact they are now expanding gambling and moving forward in a pretty significant way."
Strickland has said the slot machine lottery expansion will bring in an estimated $933 million for the state budget over the next two years. The state is attempting to quickly implement the expansion so that money can begin flowing into state coffers as soon as possible.
Strickland said in a statement that Dolan successfully oversaw the agency's transition to a new vendor that will save the state $20 million a year.
"Beyond his work at the Lottery, I believe that Mike is a person who exemplifies the creativity and commitment to Ohio that we expect of those in public service," Strickland said.