New bill proposed to maximize efforts by Arkansas scholarship lottery to provide scholarships

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – SB649 is a new senate bill proposed to increase the funding for college scholarships provided by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.

Ken Yang with the Arkansas Family Council is a supporter of SB649 and believes it will help more students in Arkansas.

“It’s called the Arkansas scholarship lottery as I was trying to make sure that more students get scholarships in the state of Arkansas,” Ken Yang said. 

SB649 would mandate the ASL set aside a percentage of net revenues and then increase those in subsequent years:

  • In FY22 the lottery would set aside 20%
  • In FY23 – 21%
  • In FY24 – 22%
  • In FY25 – 23%
  • In FY26 – 24%
  • And for FY27 and beyond – 25%

Yang believes this bill would do more of what the lottery was intended to — fund scholarships.

“If you look at our numbers right now if we had $100 million less revenue at 25% we would still be giving out $10 million more in scholarships than we do now,” Yang said.

Scott Hardin with the Department of Finance and Administration says lotteries around the country do not have mandatory withholdings.

“Typically you to see lotteries across the country getting away from this this this fixed number.  You just don’t see many lotteries doing it, surrounding states you don’t see it.” Hardin said.

Yang says the bill does not dictate how the lottery operates after they take the percentage of revenues off the top.  He suggests a few things like cutting administrative costs, cutting down on contracts, and making slight cuts on prizes given out. 

Hardin says the lottery has trimmed its employee numbers in the past few years. 

They once employed 100 people and are now down to 65. Hardin says getting players to play is the strategy, and there has to be a number of prizes given out to keep players coming back. 

“Players that I if they have patience but always so much so when you start taking money in and there’s no you buy five or six cards and you don’t have it is at least a winter break even in there or you may start questioning do I need to keep doing this,” said Hardin. 

Revenues for the lottery have increased by 42% from this same time last year.  Payouts have actually dropped by about 32% in that same time period. 

Yang estimates that scholarships could be further funded by $40-50 million if this measure passes and lottery numbers are similar to what they have been. 

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