Mike Beebe Adds Lottery to Special Session Agenda

by Associated Press  on Friday, Jun. 27, 2014 1:36 pm  

Gov. Mike Beebe (Photo by Russ Powell)

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe on Friday added a proposal to the agenda for next week's legislative session prohibiting the state lottery from adding monitor games such as keno , saying he has received assurances there are enough votes in the House to pass the measure.

Beebe added the proposal to his proclamation calling lawmakers back to the Capitol next week for a session focusing on teacher health insurance premiums and prison overcrowding. The House and Senate are scheduled to convene Monday.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission has approved the start of keno, a bingo-style game that would have draws every six minutes, which players would track on monitors. The commission has been under pressure to increase sales, which have been falling and making less money available for college scholarships.

Senate leaders have been pushing for the measure, saying they didn't believe voters envisioned such games when they approved the lottery to fund college scholarships in 2008. House leaders, however, had said they preferred to address the issue in the regular session. Beebe said he will sign measure if it reaches his desk and said he believed the games went beyond what voters had in mind for the lottery.

"What I thought they voted for was a traditional lottery, period, and I've said that for three years or four years now," Beebe said.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey, who has proposed the ban, said he believed the monitor games are no different than the video lottery terminals that are barred by law.

"We don't feel that when the public voted this in, they would have made a distinction," said Hickey, a Republican from Texarkana.

Beebe said he believes there are enough votes to pass the measure in the House, but said he wasn't sure if there were enough to get it out of committee.

The lottery had planned to launch keno this fall. Lottery Director Bishop Woosley declined to comment on the governor's decision. The commission planned to discuss the legislation during a meeting later Friday afternoon.

Beebe said he wasn't considering anything else to the session proclamation and was confident lawmakers could wrap up their work within the minimum three days.

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