Arkansas lawmakers heard a sales pitch yesterday for “monitor games” from lottery contractor Intralot.
Intralot is an international corporation based out of Greece; they supply the Arkansas Lottery with many of its games. “Monitor games” are lottery games much like the electronic gambling you would expect to see in a casino. They typically include bingo, keno, poker, and similar games.
According to Arkansas News Bureau, the presentation for monitor games was made to the lottery’s Legislative Oversight Committee, composed of lawmakers from both houses, on Tuesday. Intralot officials claim Arkansas would be a likely candidate for “bingo” style electronic games, and that the Arkansas Lottery could see an extra $18 million a year.
Here’s the problem: These machines are just one more step in a very long, predictable pattern from the Arkansas Lottery. Every time lottery ticket sales start to sag, the Lottery rolls out some new game or gimmick to keep people buying lottery tickets. We’ve seen it since 2009.
Right now, there are over 70 different lottery games in Arkansas. That includes everything from scratch-off tickets costing $20 apiece to the more traditional draw games. At its inception, Arkansas’ lottery rolled out more gambling more quickly than any other lottery I know—all in an attempt to keep Arkansans interested in gambling away their hard-earned money. This latest proposal from Intralot is simply another step in that direction.
Electronic gambling is especially troubling, however. Studies on problem-gambling and gambling addiction indicate the more fast-paced a game is, the more addictive it becomes. A lottery game in which players have to wait hours or days to find out if they won is not as addictive as, say, a scratch-off game where players find out almost immediately.
Electronic games like bingo, keno, and others take that to a whole new level. They lead to more gambling addiction—and families will be the ones who pay the price.
Last October, Attorney General McDaniel said he found nothing in Arkansas’ laws prohibiting “monitor games” under the Arkansas Lottery. If that’s true, then that’s a problem our lawmakers need to fix right away.
Electronic gambling fuels gambling addiction—something that ruins lives and tears families apart. No amount of “revenue” can justify that.
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.