Skip to Content

Who is the director of the New York Lottery?

The director of the New York Lottery oversees the operation of one of the largest and most successful lotteries in the United States. As director, they are responsible for supervising all aspects of the lottery, including game design, marketing, sales, accounting, security, and more. The position requires strong leadership abilities, business acumen, and integrity to ensure the lottery is run fairly and transparently.

Quick Answer

The current director of the New York Lottery is Gweneth Dean. She was appointed to the position in January 2019 by the New York State Gaming Commission.

The Role and Responsibilities of the New York Lottery Director

The New York Lottery director has a highly demanding and important job overseeing a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The key roles and responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the operation of all New York Lottery games, including defining game rules, odds, and payouts.
  • Introducing new Lottery games and phasing out underperforming games.
  • Developing marketing and advertising campaigns to promote ticket sales.
  • Establishing and managing relationships with the over 15,000 retailers who sell Lottery tickets.
  • Managing a large staff involved in security, accounting, systems technology, and other administrative functions.
  • Ensuring Lottery operations comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Providing expertise and recommendations to the governor and legislature on Lottery-related matters.
  • Liaising with other state lotteries to share best practices.

In essence, the director oversees all strategic and operational aspects of the New York Lottery to optimize sales and revenue generation while maintaining full integrity, transparency, and public trust.

History of the New York Lottery

The New York Lottery has been operating for over 50 years, generating billions of dollars to support education in the state. Key milestones include:

  • 1967 – New York becomes the third state to establish a lottery following New Hampshire and New Jersey.
  • 1978 – Lottery sales surpass $1 billion for the first time.
  • 1995 – The Lotto jackpot reaches a record $110 million.
  • 2002 – Video lottery terminals (VLTs) are introduced at nine racetracks across the state.
  • 2013 – The Mega Millions jackpot hits $636 million, with $324 million won by two tickets sold in New York.
  • 2016 – Lottery sales exceed $9.7 billion, a new record.

From modest beginnings, the New York Lottery has grown to be one of the most successful state lotteries in the country.

How the New York Lottery Director is Appointed

The New York Lottery director is appointed by the New York State Gaming Commission. The Gaming Commission has five members, all nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate.

To be appointed as Lottery director, candidates must have relevant leadership experience managing a major corporation, along with experience in operations, marketing, finance, and team management. The appointment must be confirmed by the State Senate.

Once appointed, the director serves in the role at the pleasure of the Gaming Commission. There are no fixed terms or term limits.

Recent New York Lottery Directors

Here are the most recent individuals to serve as New York Lottery directors:

  • Barry Sample (2010-2017) – Appointed by Governor David Paterson and served under Governors Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer. He oversaw a period of strong sales growth.
  • Gweneth Dean (2019-Present) – The current director appointed by the Cuomo administration in January 2019. She previously served as Senior Vice President of the New Jersey Lottery.
  • Interim Director (2017-2019) – Michael Neis served as Interim Director between Sample and Dean’s tenures.

Oversight of the New York Lottery Director

While the Lottery director has considerable autonomy over day-to-day operations, there are several forms of oversight in place:

  • The New York State Gaming Commission provides oversight and ensures the director acts in accordance with state laws and regulations.
  • An independent auditing firm audits the Lottery’s accounts annually.
  • The New York State Comptroller conducts reviews of Lottery operations.
  • The New York State Inspector General investigates fraud or misconduct.
  • The State Legislature monitors Lottery activities and performs hearings.

These oversight mechanisms help ensure transparency, integrity, and accountability in the management of the New York Lottery.

Lottery Director Salary

The New York Lottery director has a salary set by the State Legislature as part of the annual state budget. In recent years, the Lottery director has received an annual salary in the range of $250,000-$300,000.

While this is an extremely high public sector salary, it reflects the massive scale and complexity of managing a $10+ billion state lottery.

Key Issues and Priorities

Some of the key issues and strategic priorities facing the current New York Lottery director include:

  • Introducing new games that resonate with shifting consumer preferences.
  • Leveraging technology to improve player experiences.
  • Identifying new retail partners beyond traditional convenience stores.
  • Expanding advertising channels beyond traditional media.
  • Optimizing operations to maximize efficiency.
  • Maintaining integrity and public trust.

Balancing these objectives to sustain strong lottery revenues will be an ongoing challenge requiring astute leadership.

The Lottery Director’s Role in the State Budget

The New York Lottery director plays an important role in the state budget process each year. Under state law, net revenues from the lottery are dedicated to helping fund education in New York.

Each year, the Lottery director provides input to the Governor’s office on projected lottery revenues for the upcoming fiscal year. These projections are incorporated into the Governor’s proposed budget.

In 2020-2021, the New York Lottery contributed $3.47 billion to state education funding, representing about 15% of total state spending on education.

By providing realistic lottery revenue projections and effective management, the Lottery director helps ensure critical education programs rely on a stable funding source.

Notable Initiatives and Changes under the Current Director

Since her appointment in 2019, current Lottery director Gweneth Dean has implemented several new initiatives, including:

  • Introducing a wave of new instant scratch-off games to appeal to different demographic segments.
  • Starting development of a new app to enable mobile purchase of lottery tickets.
  • Adding the ability for lottery players to join loyalty programs to earn points and rewards.
  • Expanding partnerships with major retail chains to extend lottery ticket availability.
  • Launching a new advertising campaign centered around benefiting education.

While the impacts of these changes will take time to be realized, the current director is proactively making efforts to keep the New York Lottery relevant in a rapidly evolving consumer and technology marketplace.

The Director’s Focus during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 created major disruptions for the New York Lottery. With many retail partners closed or operating under restrictions, lottery ticket sales fell significantly in the second quarter of 2020.

Director Gweneth Dean responded by implementing several changes:

  • Expanding lottery products into new retail channels like grocery stores.
  • Shifting marketing campaigns to promote buying lottery tickets online.
  • Introducing contactless payment options for retail partners.
  • Developing new games compatible with online sales.
  • Cutting costs through a hiring freeze and reducing discretionary spending.

While lottery revenues were still down compared to pre-pandemic levels, the director’s actions helped mitigate declines and position the lottery to recover as restrictions eased.

The Future of the New York Lottery

Some potential developments that could impact the future of the New York Lottery under the current director and her successors include:

  • A steadily increasing share of lottery sales occurring online as consumer behaviors shift.
  • New lottery games utilizing augmented reality or tying in to TV shows and media properties.
  • Increasing competition as more states introduce iLottery options.
  • Opportunities to expand lottery ticket sales to new venues as marijuana dispensaries open.
  • Regulatory changes from the state legislature impacting Internet gaming.

Adaptability and innovation will be vital for the Lottery to thrive in an era of rapid change. The leadership of the Lottery director will be integral to navigating this landscape.

The Importance of the Lottery for State Education Funding

While the New York Lottery accounts for a relatively small portion of the total state budget, it has an outsized importance as a funding source for state education programs. In recent budgets, lottery revenues accounted for around 15% of total state spending on education.

This consistent and significant contribution provides a stable baseline funding source that allows long-term planning and continuity for key education programs benefiting K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.

If lottery revenues were to substantially decrease, it would create a major gap that would need to be filled through other sources such as tax increases or spending cuts.

Maintaining strong lottery ticket sales through effective management of games, marketing, and operations is therefore essential to ensure New York can continue providing quality education services without disruption.

How Past Lottery Directors Shaped the Organization

Over its 50+ year history, past New York Lottery directors have shaped the organization through key decisions and initiatives such as:

  • John Quinn (2010-2017) – Oversaw initial rollout of video lottery terminals (VLTs) at racetracks, creating a new revenue stream.
  • Nancy Neff (2007-2010) – Presided over introduction of Quick Draw keno-style drawings to boost revenues.
  • Richard McDonald (1995-2001) – Implemented the Lottery’s first major ad campaign and brand refresh in 25 years.
  • John Duda (1975-1994) – Grew the Lottery dramatically by expanding game portfolio and retail footprint.
  • Richard Parsons (1971-1974) – Established organizational structure and implemented major systems during launch era.

Each director has left their own imprint on the Lottery’s offerings, technology, marketing, and retail presence based on the strategic needs of their era.


In summary, the New York Lottery director oversees a massive enterprise that generates essential funding for education in the state. As a highly influential position, the director shapes strategy, drives innovation, and establishes the organizational culture. Effective leadership in the role is vital to adapt to emerging challenges and maintain strong public trust. With billions in education funding at stake, selecting the right director is one of the most important duties of New York’s policymakers.