The Arkansas Lottery released its financial report for the month of June earlier today. As previously expected, the Arkansas Lottery allocated a little less than $72.5 million for college scholarships during Fiscal Year 2015–almost $9 million less than the “very conservative budget” lottery officials initially approved last year.
The report shows that from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2015 lottery ticket sales declined by about $1.4 million, but lottery scholarship funds dropped by roughly $9 million.
Last June the Arkansas Lottery supplemented scholarship funding with $5 million from its Unclaimed Prizes account.
All told, the Arkansas Lottery spent 17.7% of its income on scholarships during the past year–down from 19.8% in Fiscal Year 2014. Below is a breakdown of lottery revenue and scholarship allocations from the past 12 months.
|Month||Gross Lottery Revenue||Paid to Scholarships||% Gross Revenue|
These numbers highlight some very important facts about the Arkansas Lottery:
- Scholarship funding decreased by 11% from 2014 to 2015 despite the fact lottery revenue decreased by less than half a percent (0.342% to be exact) during that same time.
- From July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, the Arkansas Lottery made $12.98 each second of every day.
- If the Lottery allocated 25% – 30% of its gross revenue for scholarships (the way most lotteries for education do), scholarship funding would rise to somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million to $120 million.
- Even if lottery revenue plummeted to $300,000,000, the Arkansas Lottery would still fund $75 million in scholarships if it would simply pledge to allocate 25% of its revenue to do so.
Lottery advocates keep telling us if they promise a minimum percentage of lottery revenue for scholarships (like 25% – 30%), they will have to cut back on lottery prizes, meaning ticket sales will drop and the lottery will ultimately provide less scholarship money.
The fact is if the Arkansas Lottery did promise to give 25% of its revenue to scholarships, scholarship funding would be higher than it is now even if ticket sales dropped by a hundred million dollars.
We keep saying it: The problem at the Arkansas Lottery is not revenue. It’s priorities.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.