Profiles in Service: Pennsylvania Lottery’s drawings staff adapts to keep operations going during the pandemic

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PA Lottery

The Pennsylvania Lottery drawings staff was recognized today by Governor Wolf’s Administration for overcoming challenges during the pandemic.

This recognition is part of a new Profiles in Service series highlighting the dedication and commitment of state employees to provide quality public services and overcome operational challenges created by the pandemic.

When the first cases of COVID-19 reached Pennsylvania in March 2020, this group of six full-time and five part-time employees quickly adapted operations to ensure that the Lottery’s daily drawings would continue, as profits from the Lottery support critical programs for older Pennsylvanians. 

“We’re very dedicated to the fact that there has to be a drawing every night, because proceeds do help older Pennsylvanians with free rides, meals and all kinds of things that wouldn’t have happened if we shut down and didn’t do the drawings,” said Deb Armstrong, Pennsylvania Lottery drawings official.

As of today, the Lottery projects that its traditional sales will total more than $5 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. It also projects that sales from its online games will surpass $900 million this fiscal year. That means the Lottery anticipates a total of more than $1.3 billion in profit will go to programs that benefit older Pennsylvanians.

“One of the main challenges we had to overcome was to figure out how to continue to do the drawings, while following our procedures, but also now the CDC Guidelines,” said Lottery Drawings Manager Rachel Feitelson. “The team worked together. We were able to come up with ways to keep everybody safe and still get the job done, get it done properly, correctly, and there was no doubt that we wouldn’t do the drawings.”

Drawings staff work each day starts with security procedures, such as weighing each Lottery ball and testing each Lottery machine to make sure they are working properly.

When the pandemic reached Pennsylvania, the drawings staff adapted in real time to ensure that social distancing guidelines, mask-wearing and other health and safety protocols were closely followed. Employees on the drawings team also took on new responsibilities.

“When COVID first hit, we went from coming to a completely full building to the only people in the building. We were in a ghost town every time we would come into work,” said Hal Cramer, Pennsylvania Lottery drawings official. “We took on additional responsibilities such as taking care of our own trash bins, cleaning the bathrooms and even watering peoples’ plants.”

All of this work behind the scenes helped ensure the Lottery did not miss any drawings — despite the health crisis that was unfolding in the commonwealth and across the world.

“I think we are all honored to be recognized,” said Dominique Lee, Pennsylvania Lottery drawings official, who works behind the scenes at drawings. “We’re kind of the unknown of Lottery, meaning a lot of people really don’t know what we do here. We are just honored and grateful that we are being recognized.”

The Pennsylvania Lottery has a staff of roughly 275 employees. Many have successfully worked remotely during the pandemic, while others continued to report the office.

In addition to the drawings staff, there have been many other employees who have played a critical role in ensuring that operations have continued during the pandemic, including claims staff who have been reporting to Lottery offices to process prize claims, and district sales representatives who have worked with the Lottery’s network of more than 9,600 retailers to keep them stocked with the latest Lottery tickets that players enjoy.

“Our employees take great pride in the fact that we are the only state Lottery that designates all of its proceeds to programs that benefit older residents,” said Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko. “We worked hard to continue delivering for our older adults despite the challenges created by the pandemic. Our staff’s work has kept funds flowing to older Pennsylvanians at a critical time.”

“I’m proud of our Lottery staff for working together — whether it was teleworking or in the office — to adapt our operations over the last year. They are doing a great job of following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks to get the job done,” added Svitko.

The Lottery is seeing growth in almost all game categories, with Scratch-Off tickets continuing to be the Lottery’s most popular product. The Lottery also has benefited this year from large multi-state jackpots for both Powerball® and Mega Millions® that generated significant sales. That includes a recent Mega Millions® run that ended when a $516 million jackpot-winning ticket was sold in Levittown, Bucks County.

Additionally, Lottery online games have been popular during the pandemic, providing an option that allows players to enjoy Lottery games on their computer, tablet or mobile device without having to leave their homes. Powerball®, Mega Millions®, Cash4Life® and Treasure Hunt tickets are available for purchase online.

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