Arkansas Lottery Earns $12 Per Second, Still Failing

From July 1 through November 30, 2014, the Arkansas Lottery earned an average of $11.86 every second–but the Lottery is still failing.

According to financial reports published on the Arkansas Lottery’s website, the lottery earned roughly $156.8 million in gross revenue during the first five months of its fiscal year that began last July. That’s an average of $1 million every day! However, lottery revenue is still more than $7 million behind budget.

Even more concerning, the Lottery is more than $2.5 million behind in scholarship funding for the year, and appears–once again–to have reduced the percentage of gross revenue paid out for scholarships.

Month Gross Lottery Revenue Paid to Scholarships % Gross Revenue
July $30,925,067.43 $5,928,447.99 19.2%
August 31,571,412.10 5,296,965.80 16.8%
September 30,710,493.31 4,317,227.10 14.1%
October 32,959,739.29 5,939,625.59 18.0%
November 30,617,278.28 5,577,035.16 18.2%
Total $156,783,990.41 $27,059,301.64 17.3%


Lawmakers Looking to Abolish Lottery Commission

Senator Jimmy Hickey has filed a bill that would abolish the Arkansas Lottery Commission and put the Arkansas Lottery and its director under the authority of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the governor.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission currently operates as an independent state commission with relatively little oversight. Its nine commissioners were appointed by the governor and members of the Arkansas Legislature. Senator Hickey’s proposal would bring the state lottery under the purview of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and it would cause the Arkansas Lottery Director to serve at the pleasure of the governor–just as virtually every other state agency director does.

This bill, presumably, is intended to bring more accountability and stability to the Arkansas Lottery. The Arkansas Lottery Commission set an unusual precedent last year when it voted to approve lottery “monitor games” despite objections from Arkansas’ lawmakers. As some legislators said last spring, the Arkansas Legislature created the Lottery Commission, and the Arkansas Legislature can change it. It seems that may be exactly what some lawmakers intend to do.

We will keep an eye on this bill as it develops at the Arkansas Legislature in the coming days. You can read Senator Hickey’s entire proposal here.

Atheists Sue Over Baxter County Nativity

Even though Christmas is over, the War on Christmas is not.

Recently we told you about a Nativity scene placed on the lawn of the Baxter County Courthouse. The display came with a disclaimer from the quorum court specifying that it was put up by local citizens. Last week an atheist group filed a lawsuit against the county over the Nativity scene.

According to the Associated Press, the American Humanist Association has teamed up with a local resident suing for alleged discrimination after the county refused to put a “Happy Solstice” banner up alongside the Nativity. They argue the banner should be permitted, because local residents were allowed to put up a Christmas Nativity scene.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that Christmas is a holiday officially recognized and celebrated at all levels of our government while the Winter Solstice is not. We do not close state and federal offices on “Winter Solstice Day.” Our nation celebrates Christmas. The county courthouse is not obligated to put up every kind of decoration or display people can imagine; it is free to tailor the scope and number of decorations. With that in mind, Baxter County officials ought to be able to argue–as other government officials have in similar cases around the country–that it is not required to put the banner up alongside the Nativity.