LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Revenue for the Arkansas Lottery is continuing its downward slide, prompting a warning Wednesday from the games' director that the program will become a "dinosaur" unless changes are made.
The Arkansas Lottery Commission amended its annual revenue projections Wednesday from $89.5 million to less than $82.8 million, amounting to a reduction of nearly $6.8 million in the amount paid out in college scholarships to Arkansas students.
Lottery Director Bishop Woosley told members of the Arkansas Lottery Commission that changes are needed to keep the games thriving.
"When I go to conferences, I'm saying things like, 'We can't do that,' or 'We can't do that.' (Other lotteries) are leaving us behind. They're not waiting on us. . And I'm not trying to do anything but keep us relevant," Woosley said. "We're going to be a dinosaur if we don't do some of these things. . Some of it might be the inability to do online (games). Some of it is the cash-only requirement for ticket sales. Some of it is games we legally are allowed to play, that we don't play."
Lottery officials are now studying whether the state should allow consumers to buy lottery tickets with debit cards. Another possible change is legalizing the game of keno. Both measures would have to be approved by the Legislature before the agency could put them into effect.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/1bOBJ9p ) that the biggest decline in projected revenue comes from scratch-off tickets, which came in about 20 percent below budget last month.
Arkansas' lottery, approved by voters in 2008, funds college scholarships for Arkansas students. Arkansas Department of Higher Education Director Shane Broadway said Wednesday that officials are still reviewing the revised revenue projections to determine the effect on college students.
"We're still finalizing the final student (enrollment) rosters" to determine how many qualify for scholarships, Broadway said. "We will take that revised budget and go run scenarios to see what impact it will have once those rosters are complete. That will take several days to run through before we'll have a better idea of what this change will mean."
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com