Bishop Woosley On the Arkansas Scholarship's Lottery's Winning Formula

Bishop Woosley has worked at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery since its start in 2009 and was named director in February 2012.

Woosley grew up in Stuttgart and practiced law in and around Arkansas County for eight years, serving for a time as a deputy prosecuting attorney. He later served as an Arkansas assistant attorney general. He left that post to become procurement director and chief legal counsel of the lottery.

He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and his law degree at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Q: Our “On Consumers” columnist Craig Douglass has suggested that the lottery change its marketing to play up the benefit for students and the state (Parts I and II). Are any marketing changes being contemplated?

A: The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is mentioned in each advertisement, which reminds the public that the lottery is for scholarships. We balance our messaging between product and beneficiary. The benefit of the lottery is not just for students; it’s for all of Arkansas. We have been communicating that since before the lottery started up in September 2009.

For years we have worked with higher education institutions around the state to find students who have received the scholarship and have told their stories in our beneficiary ads. We have a partnership with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and work closely with the agency to be sure our messaging is cohesive. When we conducted a phone and Internet study last spring we found that 82 percent of the respondents were aware of what the money made by the lottery is used for. Not many other state lotteries have awareness at that level, which I consider a reflection of how well we have branded this lottery during the last four years. So no, we don’t anticipate any changes.

How do you keep players coming back to play?

We adjust our marketing strategy based on the release of the games and develop creative and media strategies based on product and market analysis and research, while modeling on states that have been successful at accomplishing similar goals. We adjust our marketing plan throughout the year depending on market conditions, games and promotional launches and evaluation of our initiatives.

How do you deal with the moral questions of operating a lottery, referring specifically to the money spent on lottery tickets by low-income people?

In 2008, 63 percent of the voters approved the enactment of a constitutional amendment creating a lottery. Our agency is tasked with running that agency in a responsible manner. Our studies do not support the argument that lottery players are predominantly low-income players. That does not mean that we are not sensitive to that issue. We strive to be responsible in the advertisements we run, games we develop and sales tactics we use. I think the most compelling proof of that is that the games that are historically thought of as predatory games do not sell well in this state.

How has your training as a lawyer affected the way you approach your job?

I approach my job the same way I would a jury trial. On any given day I may be dealing with an internal issue, presenting at a commission meeting or speaking to a civic club, a legislative committee or to a group of students or professionals. In each instance, I have to know and understand my audience just as I would a jury. I have to know the subject matter and be prepared to defend my position and persuade my audience. I have found in this job, just as I did when I was a lawyer, that the person who is most prepared is often the one who wins.