Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley says he expects the state’s lottery to raise about $84 million to $85 million for college scholarships in the fiscal year ending June 30, a $12 million or $13 million increase over the previous fiscal year, in which the lottery raised $72.4 million for college scholarships.
This month, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery reported revenue of $421.3 million and net proceeds of $74.1 million for college scholarships during the first 11 months of fiscal 2016. Those figures exceeded the totals for all of fiscal 2015.
Woosley, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, credited a huge Powerball jackpot earlier in the fiscal year and a move to the Department of Finance and Administration for the surge, but he also singled out the lottery’s advertising campaign for part of the turnaround.
“We started focusing on the beneficiary campaign, showing the scholarship recipients. We were four years in so we had our first crop of graduates who we focused on,” he said. “I think people saw that and it really makes them feel better about playing and, if they lose, they know that the money is going to a scholarship for an Arkansas student.”
Fiscal 2016 will be the first year since fiscal 2012 in which lottery revenue and net proceeds haven’t dipped from the previous fiscal year. Revenue peaked in fiscal 2012 at $473 million and net proceeds at $97.5 million. The state started selling tickets on Sept. 28, 2009. The lottery has helped finance more than 30,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships during each of the past six fiscal years.
Woosley said he agrees with state lawmakers who have indicated a conservative approach to keep scholarship amounts at current levels despite the increase in lottery revenue. “I think that’s a good approach. I think over the course of time there will be more and more money,” he said.
Don’t expect any other major policy shifts from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery in the near future. Woosley said there will continue to be a focus on the fundamentals in an effort to stabilize and make more predictable the lottery’s business model.
“I don’t think there’s anything major in the next year to two years. We’re going to work on our blocking and tackling… the fundamentals,” he said. “We’ve got a real good trend going and I think we can build on that, but I don’t think there will be any huge, drastic changes.”