Arkansas to Decide on Lottery

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Arkansas might be the next state to offer its citizens a lottery, but just getting the question on the Nov. 4 ballot has been difficult enough.

The state has a history of being anti-lottery and anti-gambling.  It harkens back to an 1874 ban. In recent years lawmakers have tied a state lottery bill to casino gambling.

But now it seems that a proposal backed by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter offers Arkansas its first chance to vote solely on whether the state should get into the business of scratch-offs and lottery drawings to fund college scholarships.

The lottery would operate much as South Carolina, Tennessee and other education oriented lotteries do .

The state likely would join either the Mega Millions or Powerball cabals to boost its pay outs.

Though the state Legislature ultimately would design the games, Halter told Associated Press that in his opionion, the lottery could draw in millions for Arkansas, some of which is already heading out to surrounding states. During his run for governor in the Democratic primary, Halter said a lottery could bring in as much as $250 million, a figure that he said was based on lottery revenue in Georgia.

Opponents worry the lottery will subsidize the scholarships on the backs of the state’s poor.

Gambling already exists in Arkansas, as a Hot Springs horse racing track and West Memphis dog track now feature electronic poker and blackjack and games similar to slot machines.

University of Arkansas and the University of Central Arkansas polls indicated about two-thirds of likely voters support the measure. Still, Gov. Mike Beebe and top political leaders have shied away from outright endorsing or opposing the lottery measure.

Halter said he had faith that voters would back the measure.

We’ll see how it all turns out by Wednesday.

In The Money:

Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot is $31 million.

Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot is $20 million.

Good luck, everyone.

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