A few weeks ago we told you about how the Arkansas Lottery’s “revenue” (i.e. lottery ticket sales) was down along with lottery scholarships. Last week, amid all the talk about DOMA and marriage, one news story got less attention than it deserved: The Arkansas Lottery is giving raises to 80 employees, including its director.
Now, I don’t have a problem with hardworking people getting a cost-of-living raise. What I do have a problem with, however, is poor stewardship on the part of the government, and the Arkansas Lottery Commission has exhibited that quality left and right since Day One.
If the Arkansas Lottery were a business, its executives would be looking at spending freezes and searching for ways to cut costs right now. Instead the Lottery has decided to raise salaries—including the Director’s six-figure salary, which is going to be bumped by $7,000 in lump-sum payments for 2014—amid revenue shortfalls.
The Lottery was established for one purpose: To provide college scholarships. It’s failing to accomplish that purpose, and poor resource-management seems largely to blame. The Lottery’s expenses are among the highest of any lottery in the nation; its percentage allocated for scholarships is one of the lowest; it even pays people who win $1 million or more to come to Little Rock to claim their prize.
The Lottery has consistently shown itself to be unreliable and unsustainable, and the only solution lottery executives have seemed to be able to offer is, “Roll out more lottery games.” One has to wonder how much longer that’s going to do the trick.