Arkansas Lottery

An Arkansas Senate panel has endorsed lowering the amount of money incoming college freshmen would receive in from the state's lottery-funded scholarships and changing the program's eligibility requirements.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday advanced a proposal to lower the scholarship amount incoming freshmen would receive from $2,000 to $1,000. The measure by Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana, however, would increase the amount students receive in the second year from $3,000 to $4,000.

Arkansas lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson a bill that would abolish the independent lottery commission and instead place it under Hutchinson's control.

The state House voted 84-3 Tuesday to endorse shifting responsibility for the games' operations to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The existing nine-member Lottery Commission would be dissolved and the governor would appoint a games director.

The days could be numbered for the independent commission running Arkansas' lottery.

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday supported a bill that would move responsibility for the games' operations from the Lottery Commission to a state agency. Proponents say the change could help prevent a decrease in revenue for college scholarships.

If the bill becomes law, the state Department of Finance and Administration would manage the lottery approved by voters in 2008. The governor would appoint a games director.

Jimmy Hickey
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A proposal to abolish the independent commission running Arkansas' lottery and put the games under a state agency's control is heading to the Senate for a vote.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would abolish the nine-member Lottery Commission and put the games under the state Department of Finance and Administration. Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana said the change is needed to stabilize the lottery, which has seen sluggish ticket sales.

College students would be able to defer their state scholarships for up to two years for community service or family emergency under a bill passed by the Arkansas House.

The bill approved Tuesday allows the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to approve holds on Governor's Scholars and Governor's Distinguished Scholarships.

The department can hold a student's scholarship for military service, family or medical emergency or a commitment of community service.

Arkansas lawmakers have approved extending the state lottery's contact with its vendor for draw games through 2019, but the move faces questions about its validity since less than half of the legislative panel was present.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee on Thursday wrapped up its review of the lottery's contract with Greece-based Intralot Inc. The pact extends the vendor's agreement with the game through August 14, 2019.

Lottery officials say the new contract will reduce the games' payments to the vendor by nearly $5 million.

The Arkansas Lottery says sales of its instant scratch-off tickets continue to increase.

After a gentle five-month upswing in instant ticket sales, December saw sales jump to almost $28 million, an increase of 12 percent over instant sales in December 2013.

Lottery Director Bishop Woosley says the sales increase is encouraging. Woosley says that even in an unseasonal cold snap, sales have risen. He credited the increase to a new ad campaign and improvements in game offerings.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, has pre-filed a bill to abolish the Arkansas Lottery Commission and establish control of the lottery’s operations under the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Lottery Camelot
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A consulting group says the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is experiencing from declining revenue because it offers too many games and is negatively perceived by potential customers. UK-based Camelot Global Services presented the analysis to a legislative committee Friday. Richard Bateson,Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Camelot says Arkansas should reduce prize payout and better promote the lottery.

Arkansas lawmakers are set to hear consultants' recommendations for improving the state's lottery, which has seen its sales slow in recent years.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee was set to hear a report Friday from Camelot Global Services of Philadelphia, which lawmakers hired earlier this year to review the lottery's operations and make recommendations on how to increase its revenue.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing the lottery to raise money for college scholarships, and the state began selling tickets in 2009.

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