Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency
Annual Customer Service Report for Fiscal Year 2022
FY22 saw the post-COVID resumption of the Maryland Lottery’s outreach to customers at public events. An on-site drawing at Oriole Park at Camden Yards was among the first such events.
Table of Contents
Introduction and 2017-2022 Highlights
Even as the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency was immersed in standing up a new sports wagering program and managing the related customer questions and expectations, it emerged aggressively from the COVID-19 period by setting sales and revenue records. The Agency’s status as the state’s fourth-largest source of revenue after income, corporate, and sales taxes hinges on its positive image. Image, in turn, relies on public faith in the Agency’s ability to conduct fair Lottery drawings, and its fair oversight of casinos and other gaming entities.
In short, the Agency’s customers are all adult residents of the state and none of them is required to buy a Lottery ticket or visit a casino or bet on a sporting event. Without a successful customer service effort, the Agency wouldn’t be able to sustain its steady revenue increases.
In Fiscal Year 2022, the Agency was responsible for contributing $1.511 billion to support the state’s good causes. More details are available online in our Where the Money Goes summary pamphlet, as well as under Leadership Analysis of FY22 and Summary of FY23 Approach.
The Agency’s robust commitment to customer concerns is regarded as a key component of what makes sustained revenue growth possible. Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s approach is one that seeks to look at the operation from a customer’s perspective and encourages staff to treat people the way they would like to be treated.
This translates to quick responses to players’ email and phone messages, the timely mailing of tens of thousands of tax documents annually to winners, courteous processing of winner checks, following up on customer concerns about retail and casino partners, and an array of other activities.
Unlike guaranteed tax-generated revenue streams, Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s revenue stream depends on players deciding to spend their entertainment dollars playing the Lottery, casino games, or making sports wagers. Providing quality customer service at each Agency intersection with a member of the general public is absolutely necessary to keep customers engaged and ensure the continued prosperity of an important state revenue stream.
Pick 5: Beginning on Feb. 7, 2022, the Maryland Lottery added Pick 5 to its lineup of draw games. Replacing the 5 Card Cash game, Pick 5 quickly became very popular, and its sales in five months of FY22 greatly outpaced annual sales of 5 Card Cash. Setting up the new game involved substantial changes to the drawings studio, as well as the mdlottery.com website. Updating the website required special attention because of the preference most users have for viewing the website on mobile devices.
Launch of Sports Wagering: When legislation legalizing sports wagering in Maryland became effective in May 2021, Agency staff and the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, in cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General and the newly established Sports Wagering Application Review Commission began the process of implementing one of the most comprehensive sports wagering laws in the country.
Unlike other jurisdictions where sports wagering business opportunities are limited to a single source vendor or a few national or multinational firms, Maryland’s law seeks to actively involve participation by small and minority-owned businesses. Balancing the needs of these business customers with the desires of the sports-betting public – an important agency customer base – led to licensing and regulation priorities that focused first on legislatively approved entities before establishing the more complex regulatory framework needed to accommodate newer gaming entities. This effort led to the opening of the first sportsbook operation, at MGM National Harbor Casino, on Dec. 9, 2021. Subsequently during December 2021, sportsbook operations went live at Live! Casino, Horseshoe Casino - Baltimore, Ocean Downs Casino, and Hollywood Perryville Casino.
Responsible Gambling Best Practices Certification: The Agency’s commitment to customer service extends to its largely self-initiated responsible gaming program designed to protect customers and constituents who are vulnerable to gambling pathologies. Beyond simple compliance with a legislative mandate that the Agency maintain voluntary exclusion programs for the Lottery and regulated casinos, Maryland Lottery and Gaming has embraced a series of scientifically vetted practices designed to promote responsible gaming and inform players about available treatment resources. These responsible gaming best practices are defined in a 10-element framework designed by the World Lottery Association with the help of internationally renowned gambling psychology experts. Over the past several years, Maryland Lottery and Gaming has progressed through stages of responsible gaming certification, culminating in FY22 with attainment of the highest stage, Level 4 certification. Certification at Level 4 reflects the Agency’s commitment to base responsible gaming practices on well-founded research and the implementation of programs relating to staff training and awareness, sales, game design, messaging, player education, treatment referral, community engagement, and self-analysis. Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s commitment to responsible gaming practices reflects a systemic approach to ensuring customers are treated with respect and dignity, be they part of a majority playing without risk of personal harm, or those who are predisposed to problems.
VaxCash and VaxCash 2.0:
Lottery and Gaming’s expertise in conducting random drawings made the Agency an integral part of the VaxCash and VaxCash 2.0 programs designed to encourage Maryland residents to get vaccinated and boosted, respectively, against the coronavirus. For VaxCash, Maryland Lottery and Gaming allocated $2 million in prize money that had been budgeted for marketing.
Lottery and Gaming’s expertise in conducting random drawings made the Agency an integral part of the VaxCash and VaxCash 2.0 programs designed to encourage Maryland residents to get vaccinated and boosted, respectively, against the coronavirus. For VaxCash, Maryland Lottery and Gaming allocated $2 million in prize money that had been budgeted for marketing.
Lottery staff conducted drawings for $40,000 prizes daily from May 25 through July 3, 2021 and a final drawing for $400,000 on July 4, 2021. The drawings were conducted using a blind system to protect private medical information, and Lottery staff coordinated with the Maryland Department of Health, which made contact with winners. Lottery staff subsequently processed winners’ claiming paperwork, using established Lottery processes. For VaxCash 2.0, a similar procedure was followed for weekly drawings February 15, through May 3, 2022. The first drawing awarded a $500,000 prize, followed by 10 weekly drawings for $50,000 prizes and a $1 million grand prize drawing on May 3, for a total of $2 million in prizes. Prize money for VaxCash 2.0 was not allocated by Maryland Lottery and Gaming. Both promotions were coordinated as part of a statewide effort to minimize the impact of the coronavirus across the state. In addition to conducting drawings and notifying winners, Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff also were responsible for addressing public questions and concerns about the programs. More than 245,000 Marylanders received their first COVID-19 shots while the first VaxCash promotion was in progress, and the percentage of vaccinated adults in the state increased from 68% to 75%. According to Ipsos surveys conducted on behalf of the Lottery, 54% of Marylanders said the promotion would encourage them to talk to their families and friends about getting vaccinated, and 48% said the promotion would encourage them to get vaccinated. There was substantial media coverage of the winners, and the estimated value of VaxCash publicity was more than $9 million as measured by media monitoring service Cision — a 350% return on the investment of $2 million in prizes.
Participation in Events Resumes: During FY22, the Lottery was also able to resume its longstanding practice of directly engaging customers at fairs, festivals, concerts, and other events. Such engagement, which reaches many thousands of people annually, was halted for more than a year because of the COVID-19 shutdown. Details are available under Adjusting Hours to Meet our Customers’ Demands.
Claims Center By-appointment System Made Permanent: On June 24, 2020, the Maryland Lottery claims center reopened after being closed for nearly two months as a COVID-19 precaution. Upon re-opening, claims could be made by appointment only. IT staff and contractors set up an online appointment system, and a backlog of people wanting to make claims was cleared. Subsequently, it became clear that the appointment-only system eliminated unpredictable long customer wait times resulting from a walk-in system. Under the walk-in-to-claim system, multiple customers often visited the Claims Center simultaneously, resulting in wait times that were substantially longer than the 15 to 20 minutes it takes to process a winning ticket. By making the appointment-only system permanent in 2021, bottlenecks and long waits have been eliminated. Meanwhile, the Claims Center generally is able to accommodate the few winners who walk in without an appointment.
Recording and Live Streaming of Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission Meetings Made Permanent: As a COVID-19 precaution, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission meetings were held virtually, live streamed to the general public, recorded, and posted on the Agency’s mdgaming.com website. Though in-person meetings have since resumed, the practice of live streaming, recording, and posting has been made permanent, enabling Agency customers to have more complete access to the policy making process.
FY 17-21 Highlights
Skills Based Amusement: On Jan. 1, 2017, regulations governing electronic and skills-based amusement devices took effect, including a requirement that the owners of such devices register them with the Agency. The regulations pertain to arcade-style machines and require that the devices award non-cash prizes that do not exceed $30 in value.
$2 million Scratch-off Launch: On Feb. 27, 2017, the Lottery launched its first $30 scratch-off ticket, offering a $2 million top prize.
Table Games at all Casinos: On Dec. 29, 2017, Ocean Downs Casino began offering table games, giving all six casinos in the state both table games and slot machines. New Lottery Central Monitoring and Control System: On April 30, 2018, the Lottery’s new central monitoring and control system went live under a contract with Scientific Games, marking the first upgrade of the Lottery’s core technology in more than a decade. The system included new Lottery terminals at more than 4,000 locations across the state, new back-office software, a new online system for Lottery retailer applications, and created the capability for a broad expansion of self-service Lottery vending machines, which have proven to be extremely popular with players.
Claims Partnerships with Casinos: Concurrent with the new central monitoring control system, the Lottery authorized MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill and Live! Casino in Hanover to redeem winning Lottery tickets valued up to $25,000. By the end of FY2020, all six of Maryland’s casinos had been given this same authorization, allowing Lottery winners the flexibility to claim prizes up to $25,000 during evenings, weekends and holidays when the Lottery’s office in Baltimore is closed. In addition, the Agency was able to close its claims center in Lanham, reducing overhead expenses.
Fantasy Sports Regulation: On Oct. 1, 2018, in accordance with SB900 (passed during the 2018 General Assembly Regular Session), regulation of online fantasy competitions was transferred from the Comptroller to the Agency.
Responsible Gaming Level 3 certification: On Dec. 21, 2018, the Lottery earned Level 3 status from the World Lottery Association, an international organization that offers a four-level certification program in responsible gambling. Level 4 certification followed in the summer of 2022.
FAST PLAY: On Feb. 10, 2020, FAST PLAY, a new product line of instant-win games that are printed on-demand by Lottery terminals and self-service vending machines, went live.
$731.1 million Powerball Win: On Jan. 20, 2021, Coney Market in Lonaconing (Allegany County) sold a jackpot-winning Powerball ticket worth an annuity value of $731.1 million, by far the largest prize in the Maryland Lottery’s history, as well as the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history and sixth-largest in U.S. lottery history. Anonymous winners “The Power Pack” claimed the prize on May 26, 2021 and chose the cash option of $546.8 million (approximately $366.6 million after federal and state taxes). The prize generated approximately $49 million in state tax revenue.
COVID-19 “Play Safe” Promotion: In the midst of the shutdown related to COVID-19, the Agency began a “Play Safe” advertising campaign designed to provide advice on how to play Lottery games safely during the pandemic and responsibly as a general practice. The Lottery also extended the claiming deadlines for winning tickets that reached their expiration dates during the pandemic, with a grace period that ended on June 30, 2021.
Recognition Given to Employees
As the agency transitioned from a COVID-19 footing back to a normal in-person working environment in 2021, new Director John Martin took the opportunity to overhaul the Agency-wide monthly employee recognition awards. The result was the CORE Per-4-mer program, which recognizes staff members who go above and beyond their assigned duties to advance the following MLGCA priorities:
- "C" is for celebration. Planning for the 2023 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Maryland Lottery was begun in the waning days of 2021 with a goal of having a full plan in place by the last quarter of calendar 2022. In addition to the marking of a major Agency landmark, the 50th anniversary opens important marketing opportunities for outreach to Lottery and Gaming Customers.
- "O" is for organization. Moving forward beyond 2023, the Agency needs a plan for the next half century that celebrates diversity, encourages mentor teaching and learning, and encourages staff members to grow as their experience and abilities expand. The goal is to turn a growing, vibrant and efficient Lottery and Gaming organization over to coming generations by passing along the knowledge acquired by past and current generations.
- "R" is for revenue. Lottery and Gaming was established in 1973 as the Lottery with a mission to generate revenue to pay for the State of Maryland’s good causes. Ensuring the Lottery and Gaming keeps pace with the State’s need for revenue for decades to come is part of the Agency’s core mission.
- "E" is for expediting. Accelerating and promptly executing the process of standing up the sports wagering operation in Maryland is vital to the Agency’s mission and reputation. Having the full system up and running by the end of calendar 2022 – while complying with all legislative and regulatory elements – is the goal.
Any Agency team member can nominate any other agency team member for the honor. Those selected receive a preferential parking spot, eight hours of administrative leave, a $20 gift card and an award certificate. They also are featured in the Agency’s newsletter and nominated for the monthly Governor’s Customer Service Heroes Award. In addition to advancing the goals of the Agency, a focus on CORE Per-4-mer priorities also advances the Agency’s focus on customer service.
The CORE Per-4-mer program replaced a monthly employee recognition award known as Round of Applause, which was begun in 2015 but suspended during the COVID-19 shutdown. The new program features clearly defined criteria for evaluating nominees, with those criteria being aligned not only with the Agency’s mission but also the statewide focus on customer service.
The program was begun in September 2021 and the honorees in FY22 are:
- September 2021: Seth Elkin, assistant director of com and public affairs
- October 2021: James Young, director of corporate sales
- November 2021: Cecilia Lee, account manager in finance
- December 2021: Chester Cadogan, audit supervisor in gaming
- January 2022: Terry Bolden, director of facilities operations
- February 2022: Teresa Amann and Paul Jacob, regulatory licensing and background investigations team members
- March 2022: John Wood, assistant director of information technology
- April 2022: Fred Masterson, director of sales force automation
- May 2022: Barbara Jones-Frederick, creative services team member
- June 2022: Cathy Panagodimos, regulatory licensing and background investigations team member
Sales Division top performer honors
Each month the Agency’s Sales Division honors its top performers based on revenue-based evaluations. Those honored have their photos displayed prominently in the Sales Division area for the month, and also are featured in the Agency newsletter. There are no limits on how frequently a sales agent can win, as the honors are strictly numbers based.
At the end of each fiscal year, the sales district manager of the year is honored.
Those honored during FY22 are:
- Chuck Hamrick, sales district manager of the year (as well as monthly winner on several occasions)
- Sandra Holland, March and April 2022
- DeUnka Wade, July and November 2021
- Jon Braithwaite, January 2022
Those honored in FY21 are:
- John Braithwait, July, September and October 2020
- DeUnka Wade, August and November 2020
- Chuck Hamrick, May and June 2021
- Rob Austera, January and February 2021
- Sandra Holland, April 2021
- Chuck Holland, March 2021
- Vivian Bell, December 2020
Those honored as runners up in FY21-22 are:
- Sherise Rascoe
- Scott Kershow
- Roger Insley
- Van Daniels
- Aaron Johnson
- Jonathan McIntosh
- Tion Brooks
- Ken Tryhall
- John Mandley III
- Larry Baum
- Bryan Byers
Employee Recognition Day
The Agency observed Employee Recognition Day on May 2, 2022 by holding hourly random drawings for donated prizes.
The day began with coffee and doughnuts, organized by Director John Martin and the Executive Team. Director Martin’s message to the staff said, in part, “On behalf of the Executive Team, I want to take a moment to say thank you for all that you do…”
Those receiving prizes were:
- Sarah Proctor, a pair of Six Flags passes
- Cynthia Branche , a $25 The Rolling Grill gift card
- Alexis Fish, a $25 Glory Days Grill gift card
- William Cotton , a $25 Glory Days Grill gift card
- Kassie Davis, a Ravens prize pack including a Performance shirt, coffee mug and baseball cap
- Joe Davis, Orioles prize pack including a beach towel, tee-shirt and baseball cap
- Michael Pfisterer, a Panama digital movie download and an Orioles reusable bag
- Gregory Woodlon, a Maryland Lottery folding camp chair
Doughnuts with the Director
During FY22, Director John Martin instituted a regular Doughnuts With the Director, a regularly scheduled opportunity for Agency team members to engage with the director and other Agency leaders informally over morning coffee and sweets.
Leadership Analysis of FY22 and Summary of FY23 Approach
As an agency that generates substantial revenue for the State based on retail sales of Lottery tickets, customer service is mission-critical. Similarly, in the Agency’s regulatory oversight role, the casinos, themselves, are customers, but casino patrons are also Agency customers. When a casino patron raises a concern with the Agency, it is vital that the matter be investigated quickly and thoroughly.
Agency objectives continue to focus on ensuring customers have convenient access to purchase tickets, easily accessible claiming options, and, of course, ensuring products are engaging and fun.
Objective: Convenient Access
The Maryland Lottery has added new retail sales locations by partnering with corporate chains. A key element of this approach has been the expanded use of self-service Lottery ticket vending machines that require minimal effort on the part of retailers. WalMart and Sav-A-Lot locations across the state now sell Lottery tickets through the vending machines. In addition, the use of vending machines has facilitated existing partnerships with convenience store chains, allowing for expansion into more locations. A vital component of this effort was instituting a process for dealing with machine malfunctions. Also important to the success of the expanded partnerships and vending machines has been educating retail partner store managers that, while their time commitment is minimal, a level of attention is required. Outreach has included general email and retailer newsletter messaging, as well as individual contacts as necessary.
Objective: Easy and Convenient Cashing Options
While all Maryland Lottery retail partners are authorized to redeem winning tickets for up to $600, the proliferation of electronic payment options – particularly debit cards – means many formerly cash-focused businesses such as convenience stores are keeping less cash on hand. It has been important, therefore, to focus on adding to the Expanded Cashing Authority Program (XCAP). To become an XCAP location, a business must commit to redeeming winning tickets worth up to $5,000. They pay cash to players when possible, but also are able to issue Maryland Lottery checks. The Agency has increased the network of XCAP participants from 375 in FY19 to 441 in FY22. Lottery winners of up to $25,000 can redeem their tickets at the Lottery’s office in Baltimore or at any of the six casinos. In FY19, there were only four locations authorized for such claims.
Objective: Fresh and Entertaining Games
Lottery games are constantly under evaluation to ensure they resonate with players. On a regular basis, this involves monitoring of scratch-off sales and closing those that are weak performers, as well as seasonal games.
From a more strategic perspective, the Lottery has made two major changes recently to the lineup of games: the 2020 launch of FAST PLAY instant games and the Feb. 7, 2022 launch of Pick 5.
FAST PLAY games are structurally similar to scratch-off games insofar as there is a set number of tickets available, and the results are random. Unlike scratch-offs, FAST PLAY tickets are printed on-demand by the Lottery’s terminals and self-service vending machines. Like scratch-offs, sales of FAST PLAY games are monitored and those that do not resonate with customers are replaced.
Pick 5 follows the most traditional of Lottery games, Pick 3 and Pick 4, and has proven to be every bit as popular as the two legacy games. As is the case with Pick 3 and Pick 4, it is a game that can be played for as little as 50 cents. The attraction, however, is a 50-cent straight bet winner pays a five-digit prize of $25,000, while the same 50-cent ticket played on Pick 4 pays $2,500 for the win. Pick 5 replaced the game 5 Card Cash, which was consistently the Lottery’s lowest-performing draw game by a substantial margin.
Additional areas of focus
The Agency has a long history of addressing issues raised by two customer bases that are sometimes in conflict with each other: players and business operators. Long before there was a need for customer service efforts that address both casinos and their patrons, the Agency was faced with similar situations in addressing the customer service needs of Lottery players and retailers, which sometimes come into conflict.
In its nearly 50 years of product-related customer service experience, the Maryland Lottery – now Maryland Lottery and Gaming – has had the opportunity to refine its approach. The Agency faces customer service challenges on many fronts including those raised by players, retailers, and regulated casinos, as well as prospective licensees, the public health community, the taxpayers of Maryland, and people with concerns about various public policy issues relating to the Lottery and regulated gaming.
Each of these constituencies brings its unique concerns to the Agency in its own way, but they all have a common desire to be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. When people receive such treatment, even if they do not receive the answer they want, they are more inclined to leave with a positive image of the Agency’s staff members, the Agency itself, and, by extension, the State of Maryland. Importantly, from a revenue perspective, they are more likely to continue being customers if they receive fair and compassionate treatment when they raise a concern.
This philosophy has long been integral to the Agency’s operations, but the institution of the state government Customer Service Promise helped to crystalize the Agency’s overall commitment, and provide a framework for making improvements.
Since the Customer Service Promise was instituted in 2016, Maryland Lottery and Gaming has redoubled its efforts to ensure that people who make contact with the Agency are treated with respect and that their concerns are addressed quickly, accurately and honestly.
This focus on customer service has resulted in Agency customers reporting that they are pleased with their encounters with Lottery and Gaming. The Statewide Customer Service Survey results from FY2017 through 2022 show a positive trend-line for the period, beginning in 2017 with the rate of satisfied respondents in the range of 75 percent, but increasing to 80 percent. In the past two years, there has been a slight downward trend, likely owing to public concerns relating to two high-profile issues (more about that in the next section, Detailed FY22 Results and FY23 Plans).
Importantly, the focus on customer service has helped the Agency in fulfillment of its primary mission: raising money to help fund the State of Maryland’s good causes.
In FY22, even as the Agency was focused on standing up a new sports-wagering framework and pursuing certification for its responsible gaming best practices, it also set new financial records on many fronts:
- An all-time high of $1.511 billion in contributions to the state, including record high figures of $673.7 million from the Lottery, casino contributions totaling $832.3 million, and sports wagering revenue totaling $12 million
- Total Lottery sales of $2.663 billion, an increase of $51.5 million over FY21, the previous record year
- Record prizes to players totaling $1.695 billion, an increase of $37.5 million over FY21
- The highest ever contribution to the Maryland Education Trust Fund, $611.6 million, an increase of $68.9 million over the previous record set in FY19
Most of the FY22 records exceeded high-water marks reached just a year earlier in FY21 (but some had been set in FY19). While hard work on the part of many people made these back-to-back record revenue years possible, quality customer service can certainly be credited as the foundation on which this success was built.
Detailed FY22 Results and FY23 Plans
Overall, Maryland Lottery and Gaming has a robust approach to customer service. A majority of Agency staff meet with different customer bases on a regular basis, often daily.
The Sales Division is responsible for regular interactions with retailer partners. The Marketing Division is responsible for social media interactions as well as mass media outreach. The Claims/Customer Service Division is responsible for direct interactions with winners. The Licensing Division is responsible for interactions with people seeking licenses to work in casinos and other regulated businesses. The Security Division has interactions with winners, and also is responsible for checking on reports of malfeasance made against Lottery retailers. The Auditing and Compliance teams are responsible for checking on licensed businesses and internal procedures to ensure the overall integrity of operations. The Communications Division is responsible for responding to dozens of phone calls and emails from customers every day, conducting drawings, public outreach at events, general messaging and media interactions. Each of these specific functions requires a specific kind of response.
A Security Division check on a complaint, for example, requires maintaining a level of skepticism about both the person making the complaint and entity against whom the complaint is made – all while treating both with dignity and respect throughout the process.
By contrast, Communications outreach at the Maryland State Fair requires an entirely different demeanor.
Specific approaches to customer interactions are built into the training processes for employees of each division within the Agency. And customer service is part of the metric for evaluating Agency staff members whose jobs are public-facing.
The high-profile nature of Lottery and Gaming means customers are quick to speak up when they identify an issue. They have multiple outlets for expressing concerns, ranging from the Contact Us page on mdlottery.com, comment functions on social media, and direct phone calls to the Agency. All are monitored daily and almost all customers receive a reply (the exception being messages that are openly hostile and laced with profanity).
Since the initiation of the Maryland Customer Service Pledge, Agency leaders have redoubled their general focus on public reaction to public interactions because when leaders place a high value on customer service, it becomes important to the organization as a whole.
A vital part, of course, is measurement. Agency leadership tracks not only the customer service responses provided through the Governor’s Office customer satisfaction surveys, but also direct public contacts. In addition, the Agency contracts with a polling service that tracks public attitudes about an array of Lottery and Gaming matters.
These metrics are carefully reviewed on a regular basis and internal policy adjustments are made as necessary to address areas of concern.
These strategies have proven successful in moving the needle in a positive direction, as shown in the next section, Customer Survey Results, when it comes to public attitudes toward Lottery and Gaming, and we anticipate continuing with this strategy.
Customer Service Survey Results
The general trend for Lottery and Gaming with regard to customer satisfaction is positive, both when tracking five categories (very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, somewhat dissatisfied and very dissatisfied) and when tracking the satisfied and dissatisfied categories as sums of the very and somewhat totals. Note on Graph 1 (overall satisfaction, all categories) the trend line for very satisfied (green) and somewhat satisfied (blue) are both in the positive direction, while neutral (gray), very dissatisfied (red) and somewhat dissatisfied (orange) are all trending downward. The overall trend is somewhat amplified on Graph 2 (overall satisfaction - satisfied vs. dissatisfied [neutral]), where the satisfied (green) trend line is upward, while the dissatisfied (red) trend-line is downward.
A decline in general-concern contacts, meanwhile, has coincided with Lottery and Gaming being obliged to field complaints and concerns about the status of sports wagering, dating to 2019 when the General Assembly acted to make the issue a ballot question. Since then, the administrative-process timeline, as dictated by state law and legislative restrictions, has not met the public-expectation timeline.
As a result, many sports-wagering contacts result in people receiving accurate answers that are at odds with their expectations. In short, fewer people have complaints, but a growing percentage of those who do are dissatisfied because Lottery and Gaming has no ability to immediately address their concerns about the launch of sports wagering.
The second question, The Agency made it easy to solve my problem, had results generally mirroring those of the Were you satisfied… question, as shown in Graph 4.
While there is a distinct likelihood that when sports wagering is fully operational in fiscal 2023, single issue dissatisfaction contacts will decrease, Lottery and Gaming needs to continue its vigilance in ensuring positive public contacts. To this end, continued focus on public facing staff being polite in their telephone, email, and in-person contacts will be vital.
GRAPH 1: The solid green trend-line shows a generally sustained increase in customers reporting being very satisfied, with the blue somewhat satisfied line showing a similar trend, but constituting a much smaller segment of those who respond; solid trend-lines for somewhat dissatisfied and very dissatisfied show a decreasing trend.
Graph 2: Combines very and somewhat categories into Satisfied and Dissatisfied, to clarify results shown in Graph 1.
Graph 3: While total responses to the customer service questions vary from year to year, the number of people responding Very Satisfied is greater than the number responding to all others combined.
Graph 4: Showing raw numbers on replies to the State made it easy… question mirror replies to the satisfied with service responses.
Status of Customer Service Training
As has been the case since FY18, the Agency continues to provide customer service training as part of the onboarding process for new employees. Customer service also is part of the semiannual evaluation process. These efforts are enhanced by incorporating the State’s HUB training opportunities into Agency customer service enhancement efforts.
Customer Inquiry Response Times and Overall Time-to-Resolution
Timeliness of Responding to Customer Inquiries
On average in FY22, the Agency’s Communications Division received more than 50 written messages per week, most of which were sent through the "Contact Us" page at mdlottery.com. Customers who use the “Contact Us” page receive an automatic email reply confirming that the message has been received and explaining that a detailed response will be coming as soon as possible. The Communications Division responds to most of these messages on the day they are received. Communications staff also monitor these email messages on weekends, and replies are sent no later than the following Monday.
The number of inquiries the Agency receives through the State IQ system, including Governor's letters and customer survey responses, can vary widely. In FY22, Lottery and Gaming received 74 customer service survey responses from the IQ system. This was a substantial increase from FY19 when 53 were received, but on par with FY18 when 91 IQ responses were received, and down substantially from the 202 received in FY17.The FY22 increase following is attributable to two high-profile policy issues: VaxCash and sports wagering. More than half of the FY22 IQ messages, 38 in all, were from people expressing concerns about the VaxCash and VaxCash 2.0 promotions designed encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus. Another 15 of the messages were from people asking questions, or expressing displeasure, about the status of sports wagering in Maryland. The two subjects accounted for 71 percent of the total (53 of 74). The Agency’s IQ system administrator takes action the moment a response is received, evaluating each to determine the best course of action. The Communications Division is able to answer many inquiries immediately, thanks to both the staff’s collective knowledge and its practice of archiving institutional information. For questions not answered immediately, the IQ system administrator makes contact with the appropriate Agency staff to secure the information, enabling a quick and comprehensive reply. If a response requires the Communications staff to consult with staff in other divisions, our average response time is within two to three business days.
The Communications Division also is responsible for responding to customer requests for information made under the Maryland Public Information Act. The Agency received 36 such requests in FY22 and made an initial reply to each one well within the 10-day statutory requirement for initial replies. All but two requests were addressed within the 30-day limit for final reply. For the remaining two, the Agency receive the requestors’ permission to exceed the 30-day limit and provided responses to both.
We believe our current practice of responding to customer inquiries is robust, while remaining efficient and appropriate for the needs of the Agency’s lean business model. Our process is particularly significant for addressing questions and concerns from Lottery players. A sales-driven organization like the Lottery must be able to provide rapid responses. We strive to handle inquires quickly and accurately to ensure that each customer’s experience is positive.
Plans for Improvement
The current system of responding to inquiries is both efficient for Agency staff and helpful to our customers; however, we are continually evaluating our practices in light of technological advances to ensure our customer interactions are cordial and useful.
Improving the Customer Experience from Multiple Perspectives
Our customers face an expanding array of gaming opportunities, so it is vital that the Agency distinguishes itself by developing innovative products and providing exciting entertainment experiences. In addition to maintaining a strong customer-focus for Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s existing public facing components, a new challenge is posed by the implementation of sports wagering.
Sports enthusiasts in Maryland are particularly interested in the launch of mobile sports wagering options, and are likewise frustrated by the time it is taking to establish the regulatory framework. The Agency has diligently worked to make progress on the portion of the work that is within its purview. While the legalization of sports wagering was approved by voters in a November 2020 referendum, it was in May of 2021 when the enabling legislation was signed into law, clearing the way for the Agency to begin drafting regulations to implement one of the most comprehensive and complex laws of its kind in the nation.
Sports fans who contact the Agency are generally not interested in the details of the work, which involves not only Maryland Lottery and Gaming, but the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission and the Office of the Attorney General. But we have endeavored to explain the multiple steps involved in the process in plain terms that are easily understood. Our responses to the public and to many media inquiries have further emphasized that Maryland Lottery and Gaming is working every day to expedite the elements of the sports wagering launch that are our responsibility.
While we are not able to fully address everyone’s concerns, many people do appreciate a detailed and thoughtful reply.
Making Agency Services Available Online
Maryland Lottery and Gaming maintains two websites – mdlottery.com and mdgaming.com -- both of which are frequently updated.
A major function of the mdlottery.com site is marketing, therefore it has a more festive look.
Even so, it is updated multiple times every day with numbers from the most recent drawings, numbers of claims made to date on each of more than 40 scratch-off games on the market at any given time, information about retailers selling tickets and how to redeem tickets, news about winners and large prizes that remain unclaimed, as well as other information useful to customers.
Likewise, it has an interactive component where businesses can apply to become Lottery retail partners, and existing retail partners can find out the latest information about lottery promotions and ticket updates.
The Lottery dedicates an important part of the mdlottery.com website to responsible gaming, including suggestions on how to be a low-risk player, problem gambling warning signs, and how to get help for yourself or someone you know.
In FY21, there were 61,629,794 sessions on our websites logged by 7,460,299 visitors. Of the visitors, 26.1% were returning users, while 73.9% were new. In FY22, there were 61,494,691 sessions on our websites logged by 6,985,632 visitors. Of FY22’s visitors, 26.9% were returning users, while 73.1% were new. The large percentage of new visitors is driven by our online advertising efforts. The increase in returning visitors, meanwhile, reflects a substantial number of new visitors regularly turning into return visitors.
Mobile vs. Desktop traffic to mdlottery.com:
Mobile – 80%
Desktop – 17%
Tablet – 3%
Average time spent on site:
FY21 – 2.5 minutes
FY22 - 3 minutes
Updates to website to accommodate changing user preferences such as mobile over desktop: mdlottery.com prioritizes a mobile-first experience since that’s where the majority of our traffic comes from. When the new Pick 5 game launched and we had to restructure our homepage, game page and winning numbers page to accommodate more information, we made sure the new information was easily viewable and easy to understand on both mobile and desktop. We organized the information so that players can view the information clearly.
The mdgaming.com site is focused on the Agency’s regulatory responsibilities in general, and especially focused on casinos and sports wagering. It also provides a wealth of information for individuals and businesses seeking gaming licenses. In addition, it is a public repository for agency regulations, Commission meeting recordings and related documents.
The site also provides a form allowing casino patrons to submit formal complaints about casinos and other Agency-regulated businesses.
In FY21, there were 75,113 sessions on our mdgaming.com logged by 60,325 visitors. Of the visitors, 94.1% were returning users, while 5.9% were new. In FY22, there were 82,308 sessions on our websites logged by 53,816 visitors. Of FY22’s visitors, 90.6% were returning users, while 9.4% were new.
Mobile vs. Desktop traffic to mdgaming.com:
Mobile – 28%
Desktop – 72%
Tablet – 1%
Average time spent on site:
FY21 – 56 seconds
FY22 – 1.44 minutes
Internet-based smartphone app usage
The online experience is further enhanced for customers through the four Maryland Lottery smartphone apps. These allow substantial convenience for players, including the ability to scan and check Lottery tickets, instant access to winning numbers, a link to My Lottery Rewards player loyalty accounts, and related functions. The Agency maintains a standard Lottery app, a Rewards program app, and an app that provides results for Racetrax and Keno, which have computerized drawings every few minutes.
In FY22, all four apps saw increased participation and usage, as reflected in the following statistics:
MD Lottery app:
Monthly active users: 185,000
Sessions: 11.9 million
Sessions per user: 35.1
Monthly active users: 179,000
Sessions: 10.3 million
Sessions per user: 35.7
My Lottery Rewards app:
Monthly active users: 61,000
Sessions: 1.8 million
Sessions per user: 16.1
Monthly active users: 60,000
Sessions: 1.6 million
Sessions per user: 17.8
Monthly active users: 14,800
Sessions: 1.7 million
Sessions per user: 37.0
Monthly active users: 14,000
Sessions: 1.5 million
Sessions per user: 65.5
Processing Times for Customer Transactions
Maryland Lottery and Gaming staff interact on a daily basis with three broad categories of customers: Lottery players, retail partners in need of immediate help, and people seeking gaming licenses.
Players: The Customer Resource Center at the Lottery’s office in Baltimore is commonly referred to as “the claims center,” however this belies the division’s many duties. In addition to processing winner claims, the Customer Resource Center also is responsible for oversight of claims made at casinos and at Expanded Cashing Authority Program retailers, providing tax documents to players, intercepting money when the claimant has either a child support debt, or owes money to the Maryland Central Collections Unit, and processing orders for Lottery subscriptions.
In FY22, 14,580 claims with a total value of $98,350,892 were processed directly at the Customer Resource Center. The Center also oversaw 992 claims valued at $10,960,531 processed at casinos and another 94,212 claims valued at $190,701,764 made at 400 Expanded Cashing Authority locations across the state. Expanded Cashing Authority locations are those businesses that commit to process claims up to $5,000. Typically claims are processed in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming also has a statutory responsibility to intercept winnings of people who owe back child support or other state debts. This responsibility serves the citizens and taxpayers of Maryland. In FY22, the Customer Resource Center collected $273,475 in child support arrears and $1,715,637 in back-debt (such as unpaid taxes) owed to the Central Collections Unit. While this adds to the processing time, such claims typically are still processed in less than 45 minutes.
Each customer who wins $601 or more must receive an IRS form W-2G, and the Customer Resource Center is responsible for coordinating the printing and mailing of these tens of thousands of documents. In addition, the Customer Resource Center receives thousands of requests annually from people who need replacement tax documents. Requests for replacement documents are sent out in the next day’s mail or made available for the customer to pick up (based on the customer’s preference) either the same day or the next business day.
Managing subscriptions is a relatively small, but important, part of the Customer Resource Center’s area of responsibility. At the close of June 2022, the end of the fiscal year, there were 7,489 active subscriptions. Because subscriptions are active for periods ranging from 13 weeks to one year, and subscriptions can be started on any business day, there is substantial churn that must be managed on a daily basis.
Retail Partners: The Maryland Lottery’s retailers are both an important customer base unto themselves, and vital partners in serving Lottery ticket buyers, the primary customer base. Ensuring the Lottery’s roughly 4,400 retailers receive prompt attention for a range of maintenance issues is, therefore, a very high priority.
The challenge is substantial. Ticket terminals are complex devices, and there are several different types of terminals. They are linked to a highly secure computer system. Millions of tickets are sold every day, and financial accuracy is of paramount importance.
To ensure the system functions optimally requires constant attention. The Lottery oversees our Lottery vendor, Scientific Games, which runs the central monitoring and control system that powers every Lottery terminal and vending machine in the state. Scientific Games managed 28,416 service calls in FY22. The Lottery reviews weekly reports on these calls to identify trends and work with Scientific Games to ensure issues are handled promptly. Solutions range from providing additional training to retail staff to replacing component parts or full terminals, to simply delivering supplies.
The maintenance oversight function has reactive and proactive components. Of the 28,416 service calls logged in FY22, 4,516 were for preventative maintenance and 44 were courtesy calls – generally falling into the proactive category.
Of the reactive calls, 1,881 were for equipment installations, and 21,914 were calls for service. When such calls prevent the retailer from being able to sell tickets, a response is required within three hours or less.
Lottery staff check a series of key performance indicators for the Scientific Games call center on a weekly basis. The call center’s target is to answer all customer calls within 1 minute, which occurs for 85 percent of all calls. For a sample week in July 2022, 94 percent of calls were addressed within the target, and the average wait time was 12 seconds. The weekly report identifies the most prominent problems raised by callers so priorities can be adjusted on the fly to meet retailers’ needs.
Gaming License Applicants: To ensure the patrons of casinos and other regulated businesses can be confident about the integrity of gaming in Maryland, the state has a thorough licensing process for people who work at, or provide services to, the state’s casinos and sports wagering licensees. The number of license types was expanded in FY22 to accommodate the new responsibility of managing sports wagering. As a result, the number of license applications increased from 3,453 in FY21 to 5,717 in FY22.
Though the number of license applications increased substantially, the process was upgraded so new applicants can complete their applications and related materials using the Agency’s secure online eLicensing portal. Most license renewals also can be completed using the eLicensing system. This covers licenses for vendors, manufacturers, contractors, principal entities, institutional investors, and all sports wagering related applications. We are working to get the rest of the renewal licenses available in eLicensing.
Having the applications available in eLicensing allows required documents to be uploaded through the portal creating a more streamlined process, eliminating the excess use of paper as well as the wait times between completing an application and our staff receiving the documents. The eLicensing system allows for a constant flow in the process and gives both applicants and the Agency the ability to track the progress of applications and investigations.
Investigators have the ability to perform many functions through eLicensing, including database checks and generating letters, allowing them to maximize productivity.
The Agency also added several new reports which allow investigators to track activity within the eLicensing system and eliminate the need for separate tracking sheets.
Due to the complexity of licensing investigations, it is not possible to define a set timeline for the completion of each investigation. In general, investigations are completed in three to six months, and in many cases, the duration depends heavily on the amount of time it takes an applicant to submit all of the required documents and information.
Adjusting Hours to Meet Customer Demands
As noted previously, the Agency permanently instituted an appointment-only system for visitors to the Customer Resource Center in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdown. In addition, the resumption of public outreach at fairs, festivals, sports events and other community activities has allowed the Lottery to expand customer engagement.
Appointments: The claim-by-appointment adjustment has put an end to bottlenecks that previously resulted from multiple winners showing up at the same time to claim prizes or get copies of tax documents.
The result has been quicker in-and-out times for customers by eliminating time spent waiting for Customer Resource Center staff. Walk-in claims and tax record requests are still permitted, but those customers must wait until appointment customers are seen.
Even so, their in-and-out times are consistently low because the appointment system has resulted in a more even distribution of customers visiting the office each day.
Resumption and expansion of outreach at public events: Player outreach at events across Maryland officially resumed in August of 2021 after a cessation of more than a year due to COVID-19.
Initially, the Communications team favored outdoor/open-air events for safety purposes. In addition, plexiglass partitions were integrated into the Lottery’s displays at events for everyone’s protection.
The events team also purchased Lottery-themed face masks for staff to wear and to distribute to customers.
While participation in such events is important from a promotional standpoint, it also has tremendous value on to other fronts:
- Maryland Lottery and Gaming’s annual revenue numbers are compiled on a succinct handout that is given to almost everyone who engages with the Agency’s booth. The handout, known as the “Where the Money Goes” sheet, provides an overview of the Agency’s role in providing funding to Maryland. Over the course of a year, “Where the Money Goes” is handed to many thousands of people.
- The Lottery’s attendance at public events provides Maryland residents an opportunity to talk with Agency staff and ask questions about the Lottery, the casinos and sports betting. Having direct, face-to-face contact with so many people is an invaluable opportunity.
The Communications team is also looking closely at the calendar of events it attends to make the most of available resources. Among the factors that are considered is the event’s attendance. April, May and October in Maryland are event-heavy months, with many well-attended functions across the state. The events team also is on the lookout for new events, or previously overlooked events, for addition to the Agency calendar. This resulted in the addition of three new events in FY22 and is likely to result in more moving forward.
Most events designed to attract large crowds of customers and constituents are held on weekends, which limits engagement. Even so, on average the Agency’s outreach included a schedule of 56 events, more than one per weekend. But FY22 was unusual as there was still a measure of COVID-19 caution in the early months of the fiscal year. In FY23, Agency events outreach to customers and constituents is anticipated to increase.
Social Media Usage to Improve the Customer Experience
Interacting with the public via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has been a quick and effective way for us to respond to customer inquiries. In addition, social media is a valuable tool for advertising Lottery products and promotions.
Social media allows us to directly interact with our players. Customers are able to comment on our posts, send messages to us privately to ask questions, inform us of any issues, and express opinions on our products. Our Communications and Creative Services departments work together to respond quickly and accurately.
In FY22, our average reach on Facebook for an organic (free) post was 6,000 people and 300,000 people for a paid post (reaching as high as 1.2 million).
Our average reach on Instagram for an organic post was 1,500 people and 150,000 people for a paid post (reaching as high as 300,000). Our total impressions on Twitter averaged 35,000 per month. We are often retweeted by fans of the Lottery as well as media outlets – mainly WBAL-TV and hyper-local community news publications. This helps greatly increase our reach.
In FY22, we had a total of 127,995 followers across our social media channels, up from 125,132 followers in FY21. In FY23, our goal is to increase our followers by 5% across all platforms. We plan to achieve this by creating more engaging content that reaches our current Lottery fanbase as well as players who have not yet connected with us on social media.
My Lottery Rewards – Customer Loyalty Program
The Maryland Lottery maintains a customer loyalty program formally known as My Lottery Rewards and often referred to as the “second chance” program. The Agency is required by law to return all unclaimed Maryland Lottery prizes to players in the form of prizes. To accomplish this, Lottery encourages players to sign up for My Lottery Rewards accounts which they can use to enter non-winning scratch-off tickets and all draw game and FAST PLAY tickets into drawings for prizes paid for by the unclaimed prize fund. There is no cost to set up an account and no cost to participate beyond the original cost of purchasing tickets.
In addition to drawings, participants can accumulate points that can be redeemed at an online My Lottery Rewards store. Points can also be used to enter drawings.
Participation in the Rewards program is robust and growing. At the end of FY22, the program had 483,182 participants, an increase of 13 percent over FY21 and a 25 percent increase over the FY22 total of 385,704 participants.
In FY22, slightly more than 12 percent of Maryland’s population was participating in the Rewards program. Only five of Maryland’s 23 counties have populations larger than the Rewards Program participation total.
In FY22, the Lottery held drawings in 55 different points contests, many of which had multiple winners. In all 644 people were winners in these drawings.
In addition, the Lottery held 45 ticket-specific promotional drawings that players are automatically eligible for when they enter certain tickets into their accounts. Possibly the best known of these drawings is the series where a baseball-themed ticket is entered for a chance to be the Home Run Riches Orioles Player of the Game. The Lottery also offers an extremely popular series of Baltimore Ravens-themed drawings that are connected with annual Ravens-branded scratch-off tickets.
In FY22, there were a total of 417 winners in various ticket-specific second-chance drawings.
Lottery Information Technology Division
The Information Technology Division of Lottery and Gaming plays a major role in the daily successes of the Agency. Every employee has direct or indirect interaction with the IT Division and its services every day. Even when you may not consciously be aware of it, you are dealing with IT.
This fact has not been more highlighted than during the months leading to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The IT Division supplied Agency staff members with more than 100 laptops and Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity, allowing approximately 80 percent of the staff to work remotely and accomplish their daily work duties without having to come into the office. Even today, many employees whose duties are compatible with telework continue to utilize this capability up to two days per week.
The IT Network & Systems Technical staff members are constantly monitoring the Agency’s infrastructure and related hardware and software to ensure that the network is up and running for all remote and on-site employees and also, ensuring that our connectivity with our vendor partners and casinos enable end-users to send emails, retrieve retailer reports, and access various game information data.
Due to the nature of their jobs, the Information Technology Operations Staff members are on-site at MLGCA Headquarters every day to ensure that all game data related to our multi-state games (Powerball, Mega Millions, Cash4Life) are balanced, reviewed, and verified prior to each and every Maryland Lottery website update. As the public is eager to check their winning numbers and review jackpot information, the IT Operations Staff is quick to update the website as soon as the data becomes available from our vendor partners. Several reports are emailed and distributed by the IT Operations Staff to various MLGCA staff members across the Agency informing them on game statuses, and sales and winner information.
The IT Desktop Support Unit stands ready to address any technical problems that an employee may have with their desktop PC, laptop, State-issued cellphone, printers, network connectivity, or with Gmail, FMIS, network account creations and updates, etc. This IT Unit stays very busy:
- Fiscal Year 2020 = 887 Opened Help Desk Tickets
- Fiscal Year 2021 = 18 Opened Help Desk Tickets
- Fiscal Year 2022 = 853 Opened Help Desk Tickets
[Fiscal Year 2021 ticket total tickets are greatly skewed and not on the same level as the FY 2020 and FY 2022 numbers. This was largely due to the activities (or lack of activities) during the COVID-19 pandemic months and the number of MLGCA employees who were working remotely and rather than in the office.]
The Information Technology Division was heavily involved in both of the VaxCash (COVID-19) promotions. The first VaxCash promotion ran from May 25, 2021 through July 4, 2021. The VaxCash 2.0 promotion ran from February 15, 2022 through May 3, 2022. IT Division personnel created the winner selection platform for both VaxCash promotions and conducted the drawings using a random number generator.
The IT Division also works very closely with other state agencies to assist in providing or receiving technical support, the transference of financial data and information, system access controls, and more. Some of these Agencies include, the Maryland Department of Information Technology, Department of Human Services (DHS), the Comptroller’s Office, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), the Maryland State Police, the Department of Human Resources (DHR), among others.
The Agency would like to thank the following employees and vendors for their assistance in compiling this report: Jill Baer, Rebecca Byrd, Patricia Dorsey, Leonard Dorsey, Seth Elkin, Alexis Fish, Carole Bober Gentry, George Hanson, Michael LaVardera, Melanie Losover, John Martin, John Mooney, Gail Pelovitz, Steve Smith, and John Wood.
If you need any additional information about the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency’s Customer Service Program, please contact the one of the Agency’s Customer Service Liaisons:
James B. Butler, Assistant Deputy Director and Chief of Staff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-230-8781
Jim Kennedy, Public Affairs Specialist, email@example.com, 410-230-8813
Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency,
1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 330,
1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 330,
Baltimore, MD 21230