Missouri Lottery director tried to get lucrative contracts for a vendor she’s now going to work for

The Missouri Lottery director is now going to work for a vendor that she tried for months to get a lucrative state contract for.

May Scheve Reardon, the outgoing state lottery director and new vice president of government relations for Canada-based lottery vendor Pollard Banknote, started pushing to get the company included in Missouri Lottery contracts in early 2020, according to an email to a top legislator obtained by The Heartlander.

When her efforts to include Pollard in a new digital iLottery game failed late last year, the project was simply canceled – despite the fact that the state’s primary lottery vendor, IGT, was ready and willing to launch it, and had been working on it with the lottery since 2019.

After state Sen. Dan Hegeman, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, asked IGT directly about the status of the iLottery proposal, the firm responded with a lengthy email Dec. 28 explaining the project’s timeline. But the email also details Reardon’s repeated efforts over several years to get Pollard a cut of the iLottery business in the state.

Ultimately, IGT was able to get gubernatorial approval for its iLottery pilot project. But it never got off the ground, apparently because of Reardon’s insistence that NeoPollard Interactive (NPI) be a partner in the project.

Reardon, IGT says in its email, maintained that if IGT would not agree to partner with NPI, then the lottery would either ask for other vendors to make new proposals, or would simply use another existing Missouri Lottery vendor other than IGT:

“On November 12, 2021, the Lottery told IGT that it did not want the company’s iLottery solution. The Lottery also stated that if we did not provide a combined offer with NPI, they would have to consider issuing an RFP for iLottery or use the Scientific Games (SG) instant ticket contract as the implementation vehicle for iLottery.”

Oddly, before that, when IGT’s proposal for its pilot project had been approved by the Gov. Mike Parson administration, IGT says it heard the good news not from the governor’s office or from the lottery, but from competitor NPI – which was not actually even a part of the project.

As late as Nov. 23, 2021, the email says, “the Lottery called IGT’s COO and requested that we reconsider partnering with NPI.”

Rep. Dirk Deaton, House Appropriations Committee vice-chair, said the situation deserves investigation by the General Assembly, and perhaps other state officials such as the attorney general or state auditor.

I’m hearing that for the first time,” Deaton told The Heartlander of the lottery director’s actions. “You’re telling me some things I wasn’t necessarily aware of, as it relates to the relationship with the Missouri Lottery and that vendor. But I mean, certainly, at a minimum, it would seem to have the appearance of, potentially, impropriety and certainly would appear to warrant further investigation oversight.

The House and Senate could rightfully be a part of that oversight process.”

The Heartlander reached out to Pollard and Reardon for comment via emails – in particular as to whether employment talks between the two began during or after Reardon’s attempts to get Pollard a Missouri Lottery contract.

The Heartlander also inquired of Reardon why her desire to include Pollard in an iLottery contract was so central to the project that it was canceled due to a lack of involvement by the firm.

Pollard announced last week that Reardon would be its new vice president of government relations, “heading up government relations and legislative affairs efforts.” Reardon had announced her departure, scheduled for the end of this week, in June.

Reardon had been the Missouri Lottery director since 2009.

While Reardon failed to inject Pollard into the iLottery project, records show Pollard subsidiary Diamond Game Enterprises has received $32.6 million from the Missouri Lottery under Reardon since 2014

“After working closely with Pollard Banknote for many years in various roles throughout the lottery industry,” Reardon said in a statement, “I am excited to be joining their organization.”

“We are thrilled to welcome May Scheve Reardon to our team,” Jennifer Westbury, executive vice president of sales and customer development at Pollard Banknote, said in the same statement. “May’s stellar reputation precedes her as she brings an unmatched wealth of knowledge and expertise to this role and will serve as a valuable resource to our customers. Her in-depth understanding of the industry and all facets of the lottery business will ensure that Pollard Banknote continues to offer the best support to our lottery partners in order to maximize funds for the good causes they support.”

Pollard describes itself as “a leading lottery partner to more than 60 lotteries worldwide, providing high quality instant ticket products, licensed games, in-lane ticket options, and sales-driving merchandising solutions.”

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