LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A bill that would have required the Arkansas lottery to turn at least a 25 percent annual profit didn't make it out of committee this year, but the lottery director said Monday he expects similar bills to be proposed in future legislative sessions.
"We were very fortunate to get that bill defeated," lottery Director Bishop Woosley said.
Woosley spoke to the Arkansas Lottery Commission, which met Monday in Little Rock.
The lottery has introduced Arkansas-only draw games to help boost revenue and has enjoyed several good runs with large Powerball jackpots. The numbers games have higher profit margins than scratch games, so the commission has given Woosley free rein to try to build those sales through promotions.
Scratch tickets, which have a lower profit margin, account for 82 percent of Arkansas lottery sales, which is the highest proportion in any state.
In reviewing the lottery's financial picture, Woosley said a large Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012 brought in record sales, which made March 2013 revenues seem weaker.
A year ago, the lottery had March revenue of $51.4 million and profit of $12.8 million. In March 2013, the lottery had $47.1 million in revenue and $9.8 million in profit.
Since then, the Mega Millions jackpots have regularly had winners before the jackpot climbed to a level that attracts an exceptional number of buyers.
Woosley said the consortium that oversees Mega Millions is looking at changes it can make to spur greater interest. In January, Powerball doubled its price from $1 to $2 per ticket, and the result has been large jackpots that have built faster.
Between changes in the national games and the addition of local draw games, Woosley said the lottery should be able to improve its profit margin.
"Hopefully the issue will disappear over time," Woosley said.
But he told commissioners that similar legislation could surface again when the Legislature meets in 2015.
Commissioner Mike Malone suggested that the lottery reconsider a ban on advertising at universities that the panel enacted several years ago.
Malone said he noticed a lot of courtside lottery advertising during college basketball season in out-of-state arenas.
Commissioners agreed to revisit the restriction but said they want any ads that result to be targeted to adult customers.