The Arkansas Lottery’s fiscal year just ended for 2013, and the numbers are in. Altogether, the Arkansas Lottery reports it “generated” $89.9 million for college scholarships. That’s a hefty number. Want to know some other hefty numbers, though?
- $10.1 million. That’s how much the lottery fell short of $100 million. Lottery proponents promised the people of Arkansas $100 million a year for college students. The lottery has fallen short of that goal by millions of dollars every single year.
- $33 million. That’s how much the Lottery’s total revenue declined this year compared to last year.
- $132 million. That’s how much money the Arkansas Lottery would have provided for college scholarships this year if the legislature had passed Rep. Clemmer’s bill requiring the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery to allocate at least 30% of its gross revenue for college scholarships. As it stands right now, the Lottery only allocates about 20%. That’s one of the lowest of any state lottery in the nation.
Lottery officials have said repeatedly over the past few weeks that the “honeymoon is over” between the people of Arkansas and the Lottery. The newness has worn off, and people are tired of throwing money away on losing lottery tickets. So far the Lottery’s first course of action when ticket sales drop has been to roll out new lottery games—including everything from $20 scratch-off tickets to draw games and raffles. The only territory the Lottery has not ventured into yet is Internet ticket sales and casino-style video lottery terminals. With dropping revenue, one has to wonder if that’s a direction lottery officials will want to turn to bolster ticket sales.
They’ll try to tell us it’s all for Arkansas’ college students. Of course, if that were the case, you would think they would give those students more than just 20% of lottery ticket sales. Last I checked, the average state lottery allocates at least 33%. Lottery proponents promised us a “world class” lottery back in 2008 and 2009. So far, however, they haven’t even been able to give us one that is just, plain average.
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.