Watchdog Asks Governor to Investigate Texas Lottery Spending

Texas Lottery Commission denies allegations about agency finances

A longtime Texas Lottery watchdog is asking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to order an independent investigation of the state's lottery commission finances.

Dawn Nettles runs the website LottoReport.com, which for years has been critical of lottery games and rules. She is involved in big lawsuits against the main Texas Lottery vendor.

Now Nettles claims she was approached by lottery insiders with information about Texas Lottery Commission spending.

"There's a lot of things the money could be used for. And too much of it is being wasted. And that is recognized by the Texas Lottery employees. That's why they came to me," Nettles said.

Nettles obtained records that support what she was told and she posted them on her website.

Among other things, the records show Lottery Director Gary Grief does a lot of traveling, more than 100 trips the past 5 years. They include trips to Canada, London, Rome and Singapore.

"There are some occasions when we need to go, but 18-20 out of town trips a year? I don’t think so," Nettles said.

Lauren Callahan, the Texas Lottery Commission director of media relations, responded to a request for comment by email.

"Mr. Grief's travel involves official state business. This travel complies with State of Texas travel regulations and is consistent with the agency's legal and budget authority," the email said.

Nettles' documents show three outside lottery organizations paid for much of the travel, but other records show excessive state payments to those same organizations.

"The travel monies are hidden in these service fees and by overpaying membership fees," Nettles said.

Callahan denied that. Her email said Texas Lottery business, including travel, is audited by the Texas Comptroller.

"No audit exceptions have been identified," Callahan said.

On the Texas Lottery website, Grief's message touts record sales, low administrative costs and methods "unparalleled in the Lottery industry."

Nettles said her findings call for an outside review of the agency.

"The state is losing money. The money is being misspent," she said.

The Texas Governor's office did not respond to a request for comment on Nettles' letter.

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