Arkansans Are Losing $100+ Million Every Year Playing the Lottery

Family Council routinely writes about how the Arkansas Lottery budgets a pathetic amount of money for college scholarships and about how it preys on the poor and desperate with its heavy emphasis on scratch-off tickets — some of which cost as much as $20 a piece.

However, something that gets relatively little attention is the large amount of money that the Arkansas Lottery pulls out of the economy every year.

In Fiscal Year 2019 the Arkansas Lottery sold over half-a-billion dollars worth of lottery tickets — nearly $515.5 million.

The Arkansas Lottery paid out nearly $349.9 million in prizes.

All told, Arkansans lost over $165.6 million playing the lottery last year.

Right now the state is halfway through Fiscal Year 2020, and Arkansans have lost more than $74.1 million playing the lottery.

Lottery tickets aren’t the only form of gambling that Arkansans are losing money on.

Last year the Department of Finance and Administration found that Arkansans reported a total of over $244 million in gambling losses in 2017.

Together, the state lottery and casino gambling are draining millions upon millions of dollars out of the state economy every year.

Below is a table breaking down the amount of money people spent — and lost — on lottery tickets the past few years.

FY2020 (Partial) FY2019 FY2018 FY2017 FY2016
Total Lottery Ticket Sales $239,111,994.50 $515,493,507.00 $499,707,976.00 $449,141,028.00 $455,599,402.00
Total Lottery Prizes 164,958,958.21 349,876,222.00 341,895,420.00 306,429,388.00 308,947,315.00
Money Lost Playing the Lottery $74,153,036.29 $165,617,285.00 $157,812,556.00 $142,711,640.00 $146,652,087.00

Slot Machine Group Spent $45,647 On Petition Drive in December

According to reports filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission, in December the group Arcade Arkansas spent $45,647 on its effort to bring more casino-style games to the state.

Virtually all of this money went toward the group’s petition drive.

Arcade Arkansas is collecting petition signatures for a ballot measure that would legalize gambling machines as part of the Arkansas Lottery.

As we said last summer, this amendment will bring casino-type gambling machines into convenience stores and eating places all over Arkansas. 

It will turn the corner convenience store into a casino and create hangouts where people can gamble 24 hours a day.

The amendment allows up to 15,000 gambling machines statewide with little or no oversight to prevent fraud.

All told, the group has spent more than $280,000 on its pro-gambling effort since last August.