The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports an uptick in ticket sales at the Arkansas Lottery. According to the article, sales for September, 2015, were the highest of any September since 2011.
Here’s the bad news: Despite this uptick in sales, the Arkansas Lottery only allocated 18.3%–$6.6 million–of its gross revenue for scholarships last month.
While we’re still only one quarter of the way into Fiscal Year 2016, these numbers put the Arkansas Lottery on track to pay out roughly $71 – $75 million in scholarships this fiscal year–$80 million on the high side.
To put these numbers into perspective, $75 million is a full $25 million less than lottery proponents insisted the Lottery would provide for scholarships six years ago, and 18.3% is barely better than half of the percentage Louisiana’s lottery allocates.
What’s more, according to Lottery officials, the Lottery’s uptick in sales during September was bolstered in part by a new $20 scratch-off ticket and a high PowerBall jackpot.
This is more of the same failed strategy. The Lottery’s strategy since Day One has been to prop up ticket sales artificially by rolling out new games. People are always excited to try the new lottery games, but as soon as the novelty wears off, ticket sales decline again.
In the early days, the Arkansas Lottery accomplished this by unveiling different $1 scratch-off tickets; today it’s $20 scratch-off tickets–and, were it not for the Arkansas Legislature, the Lottery would be trying to bolster sales with electronic gambling as well.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Arkansas Lottery plans to hire consulting firm Camelot Global Services for $650,000; the article also states Camelot will help the Lottery renegotiate contracts with its vendors, and that the money it saves as a result will be used to pay Camelot.
In other words, the Lottery is going to hire a consulting firm to help it save money so it can afford to pay the consulting firm. To me, this sounds a little like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The Arkansas Lottery also recently hired a new Security Director for $100,479 per year. According to news sources, the new Security Director was hired without the job opening being advertised.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
At the Arkansas Lottery, it doesn’t sound like anything has really changed, so it’s unlikely the results are going to be any different. Ticket sales are being sustained artificially. Lottery officials are being compensated handsomely. And money is available for everything except scholarships.
Given the Arkansas Lottery’s history, September might have been a better month for Lottery ticket sales, but revenue likely will fall again as soon as the $20 scratch-off ticket’s novelty fades and the PowerBall jackpot drops. When that happens, scholarship funding–which is already paltry–is bound to fall as well. We’ve seen it over and over again since 2009.
Below is a breakdown of lottery ticket sales and scholarship revenue this fiscal year.
|Month (FY16)||Gross Lottery Revenue||Paid to Scholarships||% Gross Revenue|