Scholarship fund to shrink if lottery sales don’t pick up

In the four years Arkansas has had the lottery, it has not lost money on a game but their luck ran out on the latest Million Dollar Raffle.

It comes as the scholarship lottery is projecting for the first time not to be able to transfer all 90 million dollars for scholarships. Lottery Director Bishop Woosley says, "The raffle didn't work, it is not the end of the world. We will move on from it."

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery thought they gambled on a sure thing. The Million Dollar Raffle has sold out before, but it ended up costing them $284,000. Add that to declining scratch off ticket sales. The latest numbers from December show instant ticket sales down more than $6.8 million below the projection for the fiscal year. Year to date, revenue is down compared to this time last year.

It isn't all bad. Powerball and Mega Millions are up more than 7 million dollars. The Natural State Jackpot is exceeding expectations and more games are coming this year. Woosley says Arkansas outperforms states its size and these latest numbers come on the heels of a very successful launch. "Really there is one way to go and it is down to some extent a lottery settles in after a few years and then you incrementally build your growth back up."

But at this point, Woosley plans to reduce the 90 million dollar amount projected for scholarships. "There will be good years and there will be down years, this may be a down year."

There are 33,000 students currently benefiting from the scholarship. It's paid for with 20 million from general revenue and 90 million from the lottery. In February the Department of Higher Education will look into how a possible shortfall will affect next year students. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery's fiscal year ends in June, so it is still early.
Hola Arkansas Staff

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