Debate Over Video Gaming In Arkansas Heats Up

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Little Rock's old state house not just a museum, lawmakers are about to pass real legislation there for the first time in a century.
Along with public school employee insurance and prison overcrowding, Governor Mike Beebe today added monitor gaming to the session's agenda.

When lawmakers gather on Monday, they could ban monitor-style gaming, like Keno, from use by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.

But the Lottery Commission's director says the additional sales could really profit students wanting to go to college.

Bishop Woosely says adding monitor-style gaming could increase sales by $12 million each year.

But the idea is getting some resistance from state lawmakers, including the governor himself.

In the game, players pick numbers and results flash up on a screen every four minutes.

Director Woosely says with millions more in sales every year, this type of gaming could send more kids to college through lottery scholarships.

He said, "We're not trying to do anything that is illegal and is not beneficial to Arkansas and the students of Arkansas."

Governor Mike Beebe is not a big fan of the concept.

He said, "What I said was I don't favor the monitor games when they came out."

Governor Beebe says voters approved a traditional lottery in 2008 and this is not it, even if it does equate to more dollars.

He said, "You don't just do something because they need additional revenue if you don't agree with the way they do it or what they're doing. Part of this problem goes back to I told you so.'"

Governor Beebe says there are enough votes -- in the legislature -- supporting a ban on video gaming that's why he put the issue on the special session agenda.

Woosely said, "We had an expectation that this may happen, so we're prepared. "

He says he'll still work with lawmakers next week in hopes of preventing that ban.

Woosely would like to see the monitor-style lottery games -- around the state --by this fall.

But he says if a ban is passed, the commission will work on other ideas to increase ticket sales.

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