The Bid To Limit Lottery Games In Special Session And The Role of Oaklawn

Jun 26, 2014

State Senator Bill Sample (R-Hot Springs)

Some legislators are continuing to push to add legislation limiting the types of lottery games to the special session set to convene Monday. Earlier this year the Arkansas Lottery Commission approved adding video monitor games to bolster declining revenue and scholarship amounts despite objections from an oversight committee.

Senator Bill Sample of Hot Springs said the proposed style of lottery game exceeds what was intended when the scholarship lottery began 2009.

“We’re carrying this too far. We promised in the law…it says ‘no video lottery terminals.’ Now, they can call a horse a different color but they’re just using that to usurp the law,” said Sample.

Lottery officials have argued proposed video monitor games would be different than the video lottery terminals Senator Sample refered to because they would not be interactive. Sample said the lottery commission’s expansion into keno-like video games also to some degree detracts from a casino-style race track in his district, Oaklawn.

“Well, you know, the lottery has impacted them but we’ve all been able to survive. I can say this, that Oaklawn and Southland have helped the communities and the state a lot more than the lottery has,” said Sample.

Lottery officials have said offering the new style of games in restaurants, bars, and retail outlets - with drawings being held every four minutes - will bring new revenue for college scholarships. Although Sample and others are apprehensive about the effect of expanding monitor games they have been seemingly comfortable with changing gaming at the state’s two casino-style race tracks.

In recent years the legislature, assisted by Sample, has voted with at times wide margins to allow an expansion in the types and scale of games at Oaklawn in Hot Springs and Southland in West Memphis. One measure sponsored by Sample in 2013 allowed for online betting on any computer or mobile device on horse races worldwide through a service offered through Oaklawn.