Ever since the plans were announced to install lottery ticket vending machines across the state, the Arkansas Lottery Commission has repeated at least three myths that deserve some busting.
Myth #1: Lottery ticket vending machines are necessary for scholarships.
Truth: The lottery exceeded expectations for its first-year’s revenue, and yet the Lottery Commission still wants more money. You would think that after about 30,000 students—many of whom were qualified applicants—were denied scholarships, the Commission would look at the percentage of revenue devoted to scholarships. Right now, it’s only about 22 cents on the dollar. Thousands more students could receive scholarships if the Commission would reduce its advertising or staff salary budgets.
Lottery ticket vending machines are not necessary to generate revenue for scholarships. What is necessary is for the Lottery Commission to straighten out its priorities, and devote more of its existing money toward Arkansas’ students.
Myth #2: Lottery ticket vending machines will reduce lines at checkout counters.
Truth: It has been our understanding for quite some time that vending machines, generally speaking, won’t be placed in stores that already sell tickets from the counter. The Lottery Commission is going after dollar stores and other places that don’t currently sell lottery tickets. So the argument that vending machines will reduce the time you stand in line at the gas station just doesn’t hold up.
Myth #3: Lottery ticket vending machines and the ticket cash-in process have proper safeguards to prevent underage gambling.
Truth: There’s a reason why we don’t sell cigarettes out of vending machines anymore—they were much too difficult to monitor for underage buyers. Lottery ticket vending machines shouldn’t be seen any differently.
Even if a driver’s license will have to be swiped to buy a ticket, this is not a sufficient safeguard. All a minor has to do is borrow an older friend’s ID or steal one from a parent. Minors will also have no problem getting around the ticket cash-in process—all they have to do is find an older friend willing to split the prize money with them in exchange for cashing in the ticket.
Underage gambling will increase if machines are installed, and research shows that minors have a much higher propensity for addiction than adults do.