State Lottery Keeps Rolling Out New Scratch-Off Tickets

On Tuesday the Arkansas Lottery rolled out five new scratch-off tickets that sell for anywhere from $2 to $10 each.

Unlike some state lotteries, the Arkansas Lottery relies very heavily on scratch-off tickets for revenue.

As we have written before, scratch-off tickets are controversial, because they are tied to problem gambling and gambling addiction.

A 2015 study in Canada described them as “paper slot machines.” 

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found a link between how often a person played scratch-off tickets and the severity of a person’s gambling problem.

Expensive scratch-off tickets — like the Lottery’s new $10 ticket — are particularly controversial, because they prey on the poor and desperate by offering long odds on big jackpots.

People who spend $10 on a single scratch-off ticket lose their money two-thirds of the time.

The Arkansas Lottery has a history of rolling out new lottery games more regularly than any other state lottery we know.

From the start, the state-run lottery has used a steady stream of new games and expensive marketing campaigns to bolster sales and entice people to buy lottery tickets.

As long as the Arkansas Lottery continues to operate this way, it will keep preying on the poor and desperate, and the Lottery’s scholarship funding will remain low.

Lottery Director Floats Keno, Electronic Gambling at Legislative Meeting

On Friday the Arkansas Lottery’s director floated the idea of offering Keno and some form of electronic gambling at a legislative oversight committee meeting, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The director reportedly told lawmakers,

“[T]he future requires a lot of touchless and remote purchasing, so we have considered an iLottery situation, and again, that is not imminent. . . . If we are in a situation where this [pandemic] continues and people are not wanting to go to stores and people are not wanting to [go to convenience stores]. That’s where we sell our tickets.

It’s worth mentioning lottery ticket sales surged in Arkansas during the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, and May was the Arkansas Lottery’s best month ever.

Clearly the Arkansas Lottery is doing just fine without Keno or electronic gambling — despite the coronavirus.

Lottery officials lobbied for Keno in 2013 and 2014 as part of an unsuccessful push to bring casino-style gambling to Arkansas under the state lottery.

Lawmakers soundly rejected that proposal.

In a typical Keno drawing, players choose upwards of 10 or 20 different numbers between 1 and 80. If their winning numbers are drawn, they win a prize.

But Keno is different from games like Powerball or MegaMillions in that drawings usually take place every few minutes rather than once a day.

Its fast pace makes Keno a popular casino game, because players can pick numbers and place bets over and over again in a short amount of time.

As a result, Keno often is played in a live room full of gamblers.

One of the reasons lawmakers rejected Keno a few years ago is that they did not want the state creating miniature casinos in bars, convenience stores, and gas stations as part of the Lottery.

That’s something that could still happen if Arkansas authorizes Keno or other forms of electronic gambling under the state-run lottery.