SBJ/Dec. 20-26, 2010/This Week's Issue

USOC abandons idea for branded lottery games

The U.S. Olympic Committee has shelved plans for either branded lottery games or a national lottery.

The USOC began to explore the idea as part of a long-term strategic planning project led by CEO Scott Blackmun. The organization’s executive team briefed the USOC board on the idea during a September meeting, underscoring that national lotteries had been used in other countries like Canada and the United Kingdom as a way to defray the cost of Olympic development.

The board requested more details on the proposal at the time, but it was not on the agenda for last week’s board meeting in California, and USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said the idea has been abandoned.

“We decided, after detailed due diligence, that pursuing lottery funding was not a priority for the USOC at this time given the other revenue streams that we are focused on,” Sandusky said.

The USOC began developing a long-term strategic plan in 2009 under the direction of former CEO Stephanie Streeter. At the time, the organization’s primary revenue source, domestic sponsorship, was under pressure. A number of sponsors, including Home Depot, General Motors and Bank of America, had declined to renew multimillion-dollar agreements with the organization, and it was looking to diversify its revenue streams so it could survive future economic downturns more effectively.

Blackmun picked up the strategic planning process after replacing Streeter as CEO last January. The idea of a lottery was developed at his direction.

The USOC has tinkered with the idea of a lottery in the past. After professional sports leagues like the NFL and MLB changed marketing rules to allow teams to license their marks for lotteries, USOC marketers spoke to a lottery licensing company several years ago about pursuing something similar, a source said.

According to the USOC’s board notes, the USOC’s current chief marketer, Lisa Baird, explored the option again this year.

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