Georgia Lottery president plans to retire

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that Georgia Lottery President Margaret DeFrancisco intends to retire.

DeFrancisco, 63, confirmed her plans to retire with Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland.

DeFrancisco said her retirement will allow her greater flexibility to visit family in New York and Massachusetts.

"It's time," said DeFrancisco, who has headed the lottery since January of 2004.  "We have great momentum in this organization and I want to keep that moving forward."

DeFrancisco said she has not yet set a date for her retirement and that she might work part-time.

She oversaw a record-setting year in lottery sales, at $3.8 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

DeFrancisco recently led the effort to legalize Internet gambling in Georgia.

The Georgia Lottery is expected to begin selling Mega Millions, Powerball and Fantasy Five tickets online beginning this fall.

DeFrancisco, one of the state's highest-paid executives with nearly $450,000 in salary and bonuses, said she has been speaking with lottery chairman Jimmy Braswell for months about stepping down.

"This is a wrenching decision," she said.

Despite record sales, the lottery has been struggling to keep up with the demands of the HOPE scholarship.

The legislature has been forced to tie scholarship money available per student to lettry revenues, rather than escalating scholarship funding to match tuition increases.