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Arguments From Both Sides of the Lottery Controversy

A possible lottery in Arkansas is a controversial issue that will come to a head this November. Lt. Governor Bill Halter's support of a state lottery initiative has opponents speaking out.
A possible lottery in Arkansas is a controversial issue that will come to a head this November. Lt. Governor Bill Halter's support of a state lottery initiative has opponents speaking out.

"The lottery is essentially unstable and ineffective method of raising public revenue," says Ginny Blankenship with the Arkansas Advocated for Children and Families.

Blankenship says a state lottery would tax the poor and benefit only the wealthy.  "The scholarships also tend to go toward families that could afford to go to college anyway," says Blankenship.

Her group issued a report called Gambling On Our Future, in opposition to the Arkansas ballot initiative.  One question at the forefront of the debate is how much money will the lottery bring Arkansas and where is that figure coming from?

Hope for Arkansas, a group in favor of the lottery, also issued a report suggesting Arkansas will get over $100 million a year.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter says the group took a look at lottery generated revenues from bordering states.  "We did a calculation based off of their actual experience as to how much the lottery proceeds were after all the expenses and prices. We did a calculation based off their actual experience. We then applied that to the population of Arkansas," says Halter.

Halter says if people are spending millions of dollars in those nearby states, that money could stay here and benefit college students.

"We know there are 12,000 lottery retailers in the state of Texas, the number one retailer is in Texarkana on state line avenue,” says Halter.

The children's advocacy group is hoping people will think twice.

"Were hopeful that it will not pass, they've been several other states to create a lottery in the state and they've been voted down," Blankenship said.

While the Lt. Governor says it's a vote for improving Arkansas' economy.

"Arkansas is currently 49th out of 50 states in the percentage of our adult population with a college degree and that is not the way to prepare for the jobs and economy of the 21st century," Halter said.

The Lt. Governor says his study actually shows Arkansas would get $120 million from the lottery. But Hope for Arkansas wants to be conservative, so they're only saying 100 million. He adds that money will not just help high school seniors but also working adults who decide they want to go back to college.
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