Robert O'Neill announced his sudden departure on Friday in an email to staff obtained by The Bee, saying he will "pursue other personal and professional interests." His resignation took effect today.
Leadership of the $4.3 billion lottery has turned over three times during Gov. Jerry Brown's third term in office. Brown dismissed Lottery Director Joan Borucki in 2010 and named Linh Nguyen her interim replacement. A year later, Brown appointed O'Neill, a former executive with the global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP.
Brown's office hasn't yet returned a call seeking comment on O'Neill's departure or who will replace him. The natural choice -- at least in the interim -- would be the lottery's No. 2, Chief Deputy Director Paula LaBrie.
Here's O'Neill's email to staff:
From: Robert O'Neill
Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 3:59 PM
I am writing to announce that effective July 15, 2013, I am resigning as Director of the California State Lottery to pursue other personal and professional interests. The past 18 months have been an eye-opening, challenging and rewarding experience for me. I found that the Lottery essentially is a small city, operating 24/7 and 365 days a year. It has many of the functions you would find in a city, including its own cooling plant for our Headquarters building; an around the clock security force; revenue generating capabilities; and a full slate of administrative and management functions.
Probably the most compelling aspect of the Lottery that I witnessed is the Lottery Team's commitment to its mission - - - generating funds for public education in California. It is simple, straight-forward and universally understood and respected by Lottery employees. In essence, it is the tie that binds us all together.
During my tenure at the Lottery, I am proud of what we have accomplished, including expanding our Sales and Marketing efforts, generating hundreds of millions more in funding each year for public education, and launching the State's highly successful entry into Powerball.
Still, there is more to accomplish. The Lottery has just adopted a three-year strategic focus that includes: enhancing our products by launching a $20 Scratchers ticket; expanding retailer recruitment; growing our players by reaching out to lapsed and new players; and continuing to retool the Lottery's infrastructure and business processes. I am confident that our Senior Leadership Team can successfully execute the plans we have developed for the future.
I would like to thank everyone at the Lottery for their help and support in my time at the Lottery. In the words of one of my sports idols growing up, Jim Brown of the Cleveland Brown's football team, "Life is a Team Sport." I appreciate the opportunity to have played on your team.
Editor's Note: This story was changed at 11:45 p.m. to correct the the California State Lottery's most recent annual sales figure.
PHOTO: Former California State Lottery Director Robert O'Neill. Courtesy 2004 photo/KPMG LLP