by Luke Jones
Posted 6/3/2013 12:00 am
Last year, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery surpassed $1 billion in total ticket sales since it began in 2009.
In its fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, the lottery had revenue of $473 million, up from $465 million in 2011.
But things aren’t looking so hot for 2013: From July 1 through April 30, the lottery has had revenue of $365 million, net income of $74 million and had transferred $71 million to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Compare that to April 2012, when revenue was $402 million, income was $82 million and transfers to ADHE were $80 million. In light of that, the Arkansas Lottery Commission reduced its total anticipated scholarship contributions by $9 million to $89.5 million.
“I think what we saw was early on in the fiscal year, in July, August, September and October, we kind of had a perfect storm,” said Bishop Woosley, director of the lottery commission. It’s normal, he said, for a lottery to see sales drop after a few years, but Arkansas’ program operated differently in its genesis than most lottery programs.
“The typical arc, as best as I can tell, is about two years,” Woosley said. “And how most lotteries prolong that arc is by releasing games a little bit slower. They might release the first $5 game six months in, the first $10 game a year in and the first $20 game two to three years in. The former administration here released all of those types of games in the first two years.”
Woosley said the lottery introduced its Affinity Club — a program that offers perks and extra games to members — to potentially sustain that “honeymoon” arc, and it did, for a while. Now, the arc is ending, and it’s ending earlier than expected.
The lottery has some new programs to make up for the shortfall, Woosley added. “We went back in and did some tinkering,” he said.
A new instant ticket game has been added, he said, and a raffle game will be added in September.
“We added the Natural State Jackpot last August, and that has been a very good addition to our games’ library,” Woosley said. “The folks in the state seemed to really like that game. It was a boost for us and helps us where we’re falling short on other issues and areas. Overall, we’re doing pretty well.”
Woosley said sales for May look like they would be greater than May 2012.
“There are some positive signs that we’re getting back to where it was,” he said.