Arkansas Lottery Still a Failure: March Report

Earlier this month the Arkansas Lottery released its financial report for March.

The report shows the Arkansas Lottery took in nearly $52 million, but paid out only a little over $8.5 million for college scholarships — about 16.5% of all the money it made.

For perspective, the typical state lottery gives education programs about 30% of the money it makes. Louisiana’s lottery spends 35%.

During the recent legislative session, lawmakers rejected two proposals that would have incrementally increased the percentage of lottery revenue students receive to 25% by the year 2025.

Below is a breakdown of lottery revenue and scholarship spending so far this fiscal year.

Month Gross Lottery Revenue Paid to Scholarships % Gross Revenue
July $42,413,352.70 $5,066,628.73 11.9%
August 40,343,279.62 6,175,998.40 15.3%
September 35,198,809.72 7,783,450.82 22.1%
October 57,575,285.62 11,259,040.31 19.6%
November 37,700,016.00 6,821,411.01 18.1%
December 45,859,642.73 6,650,791.54 14.5%
January, 2019 40,574,813.28 7,848,495.62 19.3%
February 41,060,111.75 8,198,257.31 20.0%
March 51,988,380.67 8,552,307.04 16.5%
Total $392,713,692.09 $68,356,380.78 17.4%

Legislature Begins Looking at Two Key Bills During the Interim

This week the Arkansas Legislature moved forward with plans to look at two key pieces of legislation between now and 2019.

The first is S.B. 583 by Senator Joyce Elliott. The legislature will study the feasibility of requiring 25% of lottery proceeds to fund scholarships; reinstating the 2.5 GPA requirement to be eligible for scholarships; and having independent consultants for the Arkansas Lottery.

The second is S.B. 774, the privacy bill by Senator Linda Collins-Smith. This bill would have required a person using a public shower, locker room, restroom, or similar facility on government property to use the facility that corresponds to the biological sex listed on his or her original birth certificate. The legislature will study this issue in the months to come.

Lawmakers cannot pass these bills during the interim study period, but can research these issues, collect testimony, and present recommendations when the Arkansas Legislature reconvenes as a whole.

We are glad lawmakers have agreed to look at these two issues during the interim. The next step is to schedule meetings where experts, members of the public, and others can testify at the Capitol.

Despite Uptick, Arkansas Lottery Still Coming Up Short

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports an uptick in ticket sales at the Arkansas Lottery. According to the article, sales for September, 2015, were the highest of any September since 2011.

Here’s the bad news: Despite this uptick in sales, the Arkansas Lottery only allocated 18.3%–$6.6 million–of its gross revenue for scholarships last month.

While we’re still only one quarter of the way into Fiscal Year 2016, these numbers put the Arkansas Lottery on track to pay out roughly $71 – $75 million in scholarships this fiscal year–$80 million on the high side.

To put these numbers into perspective, $75 million is a full $25 million less than lottery proponents insisted the Lottery would provide for scholarships six years ago, and 18.3% is barely better than half of the percentage Louisiana’s lottery allocates.

What’s more, according to Lottery officials, the Lottery’s uptick in sales during September was bolstered in part by a new $20 scratch-off ticket and a high PowerBall jackpot.

This is more of the same failed strategy. The Lottery’s strategy since Day One has been to prop up ticket sales artificially by rolling out new games. People are always excited to try the new lottery games, but as soon as the novelty wears off, ticket sales decline again. (more…)