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State lottery board picks new CEO

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The New Mexico Lottery board has offered it chief executive officer position to the man they named interim CEO in December after firing former CEO Tom Romero without public explanation.

David M. Barden, who helped launch the South Carolina and Arkansas lotteries before taking the interim job here, did not immediately accept the position, according to lottery spokeswoman Linda Hamlin.

“We interviewed four exceptional candidates and each one could provide the leadership and innovation that the New Mexico Lottery needs in an entertainment marketplace where players have lots of choices,” Dan Salzwedel, board chairman, said in a news release at the close of business Friday.

Salzwedel said the seven-member, governor-appointed board selected Barden because “we believe he has the ability to hit the ground running,” and increase revenues for the state lottery.

The primary beneficiary of the state lottery is the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program, which pays tuition for eligible students attending state-funded colleges and universities.

By statute, at least 30 percent of the lottery’s revenues must go to the scholarship fund. State legislators are currently seeking ways to keep the scholarship fund solvent in the face of rising demand and flat lottery revenues.

If Barden accepts the offer, Hamlin said, contract negotiations, including the CEO’s salary, will begin. Romero’s annual salary was $165,000.

Barden’s initial hiring has been controversial. He came under fire for questionable travel and time out of the office while he was with the Arkansas lottery. Barden attributed the controversy to the Arkansas lottery not having needed policies and procedures in place. He resigned from that lottery in the fall of 2011.

When Barden was named interim CEO here, Salzwedel said questions about his travel and absences in Arkansas had been resolved to the board’s satisfaction.

The other finalists interviewed by the board on Friday were: John A. Martin, assistant director for lottery and executive staff at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency; Dale McDonnell, a lottery industry consultant and former assistant director and general counsel at the Minnesota State Lottery; and Tom Trella, director of portfolio strategy and analysis at the Connecticut Lottery Corp.

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