Today is the one-year anniversary of the Arkansas Lottery—and the real story is not about any “success” it’s had, but about how the lottery is failing students and preying upon the poorest in our state.
I can remember what they told us right before the lottery’s launch—that it would be “world-class.” However, I don’t see any proof of this promise. How can a lottery that gives less than 22 cents on the dollar to college scholarships and denied scholarships to about half of the students be considered “world-class”?
What’s more, there is data to prove that lottery ticket sales are highest in some of the poorest parts of Arkansas. I do not consider this a “success,” but rather, a blight on our state. We have allowed our own state government to engage in predatory gambling, and the end result has been great harm to families with the most to lose.
Despite our students getting let down and our most vulnerable citizens being hurt, the Arkansas Lottery Commission continues to exhibit arrogance and appear out-of-touch with what’s really going on. After all, the lottery director makes $324,000 a year and millions of dollars are being spent on advertising. You cannot tell me that this is a state lottery that is run responsibility and in the people’s best interest.
On the Arkansas Lottery’s one-year anniversary, I encourage folks to look beyond the façade and support our state legislature passing much-needed lottery reform in January.
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.