Arkansas Seems Poised to be the Next State Lottery

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This past November, Arkansas voters passed a bill calling for the creation of a state lottery ” one patterned after the very successful Georgia Educational Lottery.

In Georgia, monies go to pay for college scholarships, if qualified students go to state colleges (they must maintain a certain grade point average). It’s a successful program that Georgians seemed to have embraced.

Now to Arkansas: a number of Arkansas’ news sources, newspapers, contributed to this post.

The Arkansas model may be similar, but right now, the bill to create the lottery is in their state legislature…and it’s a 100 page document.

“When it’s filed, you will understand why it’s taken so long,” House Speaker Robbie Wills said in an interview.

Wills filed a shell lottery bill in the House before the session started, after voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to create a state lottery to fund college scholarships in the November general election.

Sen. Terry Smith, D-Hot Springs, filed a matching bill in the Senate. Neither version has been amended to add details.

On Friday, Wills said he is still weeks away from filing the full legislation, but a draft could be in lawmakers’ hands as soon as this week.

The portion of the legislation laying out the business model for the lottery is “set and ready to go,” according to Wills. He said the bill would create a lottery commission with nine members, three of whom would be appointed by the governor, three by the House speaker and three by the Senate president pro tem.

The commission would select the director or CEO of the lottery and hire a vendor to operate the lottery.

The commission would answer to a legislative oversight committee, Wills said. The bill also would create a retail advisory board to serve as a liaison with retail businesses that sell lottery tickets.

“The business model, I think we’ve got that right, because we’re following the best practices that other lotteries have put in place that will allow us to be successful,” Wills said.

“The Georgia Hope Scholarship program of today is much different than the first year after the Georgia lottery was implemented,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is get the framework in place and let scholarship programs grow.”

The first scholarships should become available in the fall of 2010.

“We don’t want to create the expectation that next year we’re going to have full scholarships for every single person who wants to go to college,” Wills said. “We would all like to work towards that, but that’s going to take a long period of time, and it’s going to take the lottery being successful and people having confidence in the operation of the lottery.”

The scholarship would be universally available, open to traditional and non-traditional students alike, Wills said. He would not say what grade point average would be required to get or maintain a scholarship, but he said Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s recommendation of 2.5 “sounds good.”

Halter, who led the drive to place the lottery amendment on the November ballot, has estimated the lottery would collect $100 million a year for scholarships. The state Department of Finance has estimated the net proceeds would be $55 million.

The next state looking into forming a state lottery is Wyoming. But no vote has yet been taken on it.

We’ll keep you posted.

GAMES WE PLAY:
Tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot is $50 million.
Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot is $52 million.
Friday’s Euro Millions jackpot is 15 million euros.

Good luck players.

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Married to a beautiful (and extremely intelligent--- smarter than I am) South African woman. One child (brilliant). I've written three books, only one now available. Editor in chief of magazines...former managing editor .... news reporter, magazine writer, joker, sometimes a fool, lottery expert, lover of old, classic movies, music fanatic, Science Fiction fan (Warhammer 40,000, Game of Thrones). Goal for next year: Walk the Camino de Santiago. Into metaphysics, Esther Hicks (Abraham), Louise Hay

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