Arkansas Lottery

Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Bishop Woosley, director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, has submitted his resignation effective Aug. 3 to pursue other opportunities. Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Larry Walther made the announcement Tuesday.

Michael Helms, chief counsel for lottery, will serve as interim director as the search is underway for a new director. A timetable for finding a new director was not released. What other opportunities Woosley plans to pursue also wasn’t noted.

Bishop Woosley Arkansas Lottery
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery reports that during the budget year that ended June 30, a record $500.4 million in revenue was collected. Nearly $92 million of that will go toward college scholarships, which is the third highest amount since the lottery was created in 2009.

"We broke several records, and we had an excellent year for our proceeds," said Lottery Director Bishop Woosley. He attributed the growth to a number of factors, including large Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots, along with growth in the sales of instant ticket games.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

If the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery ends up earning more than the current $100 million it takes to run the program annually, how will that money be spent? That’s a key concern for state Sen. Jimmy Hickey, a Republican from Texarkana.

On Thursday he gave an overview of proposed legislation to the House Education Committee that he says would provide a structure for how additional revenue is spent.

Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Revenue from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery was up $3.8 million in August compared to the same month last year, totaling $35 million.

This month lottery officials are celebrating the 7th anniversary of its creation, which was authorized by Arkansas voters in 2008. Lottery Director Bishop Woosley spoke with KUAR about how the lottery is doing.

MICHAEL HIBBLEN: First, what's your reaction to this latest revenue report?

A new report says the Arkansas lottery enjoyed record-breaking sales over the past year that funded an increase in college scholarships in the state. 

The report released Monday to the Legislature's Lottery Oversight Committee says total ticket sales during the fiscal year that ended June 30 were $455.6 million, up 11.5 percent over fiscal 2015. Instant ticket sales were up $25 million over the prior year, and draw games were up more than $22 million.

Bishop Woosley Arkansas Lottery
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Wednesday is the deadline to apply for college scholarships funded by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. About 30,000 are expected to be awarded in the coming months to traditional and non-tradition students.

Director Bishop Woosley says an improvement in sales this year means they can maintain the number of scholarships being offered.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has sold more than $19 million in Powerball tickets as of Tuesday during this latest run that began Nov. 5, and about half of that money will go to scholarships.

Bishop Woosley Arkansas Lottery
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The director of Arkansas' lottery says cutbacks from an overhaul of the games will increase the amount of money available for college scholarships next year, but said its revenue is behind expectations so far this year.

Lottery Director Bishop Woosley told a legislative panel on Thursday he expects net proceeds for the games to increase by $1.4 million in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The gain comes primarily from cuts to the lottery program, including the closing of three claims centers and positions that were eliminated.

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to cutting the amount of lottery-funded scholarships freshmen would receive and basing its eligibility solely on standardized testing starting in 2016.

The Senate on Monday voted 27-2 to lower the scholarship amount incoming freshmen receive from $2,000 to $1,000 and increase the amount students receive in the second year from $3,000 to $4,000. The amounts received in later years - $4,000 for juniors and $5,000 for seniors - would remain the same.

Arkansas' lottery-funded scholarships would be awarded based on the number of credit hours earned by college students under a proposal endorsed by the House.

The bill advanced to the Senate on Thursday in a 77-0 vote. Republican Rep. Dwight Tosh of Jonesboro says the change would begin in 2016 and require the Department of Higher Education to award scholarships based on credit hours instead of academic year.

Tosh says the change would give students an incentive to graduate as early as possible.

The Arkansas Senate has voted to cut the lottery-funded scholarships incoming freshmen will receive and base its eligibility solely on standardized testing, days after the same proposal narrowly failed before the chamber.

The bill approved on a 22-12 vote Monday lowers the scholarship amount incoming freshmen receive from $2,000 to $1,000 and increases the amount sophomores receive from $3,000 to $4,000. The amounts received in the following years - $4,000 for juniors and $5,000 for seniors - would remain the same.

An Arkansas Senate panel has endorsed lowering the amount of money incoming college freshmen would receive in from the state's lottery-funded scholarships and changing the program's eligibility requirements.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday advanced a proposal to lower the scholarship amount incoming freshmen would receive from $2,000 to $1,000. The measure by Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana, however, would increase the amount students receive in the second year from $3,000 to $4,000.

Arkansas lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson a bill that would abolish the independent lottery commission and instead place it under Hutchinson's control.

The state House voted 84-3 Tuesday to endorse shifting responsibility for the games' operations to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The existing nine-member Lottery Commission would be dissolved and the governor would appoint a games director.

The days could be numbered for the independent commission running Arkansas' lottery.

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday supported a bill that would move responsibility for the games' operations from the Lottery Commission to a state agency. Proponents say the change could help prevent a decrease in revenue for college scholarships.

If the bill becomes law, the state Department of Finance and Administration would manage the lottery approved by voters in 2008. The governor would appoint a games director.

Jimmy Hickey
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A proposal to abolish the independent commission running Arkansas' lottery and put the games under a state agency's control is heading to the Senate for a vote.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would abolish the nine-member Lottery Commission and put the games under the state Department of Finance and Administration. Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana said the change is needed to stabilize the lottery, which has seen sluggish ticket sales.

College students would be able to defer their state scholarships for up to two years for community service or family emergency under a bill passed by the Arkansas House.

The bill approved Tuesday allows the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to approve holds on Governor's Scholars and Governor's Distinguished Scholarships.

The department can hold a student's scholarship for military service, family or medical emergency or a commitment of community service.

Arkansas lawmakers have approved extending the state lottery's contact with its vendor for draw games through 2019, but the move faces questions about its validity since less than half of the legislative panel was present.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee on Thursday wrapped up its review of the lottery's contract with Greece-based Intralot Inc. The pact extends the vendor's agreement with the game through August 14, 2019.

Lottery officials say the new contract will reduce the games' payments to the vendor by nearly $5 million.

The Arkansas Lottery says sales of its instant scratch-off tickets continue to increase.

After a gentle five-month upswing in instant ticket sales, December saw sales jump to almost $28 million, an increase of 12 percent over instant sales in December 2013.

Lottery Director Bishop Woosley says the sales increase is encouraging. Woosley says that even in an unseasonal cold snap, sales have risen. He credited the increase to a new ad campaign and improvements in game offerings.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, has pre-filed a bill to abolish the Arkansas Lottery Commission and establish control of the lottery’s operations under the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Arkansas lawmakers are set to hear consultants' recommendations for improving the state's lottery, which has seen its sales slow in recent years.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee was set to hear a report Friday from Camelot Global Services of Philadelphia, which lawmakers hired earlier this year to review the lottery's operations and make recommendations on how to increase its revenue.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing the lottery to raise money for college scholarships, and the state began selling tickets in 2009.

Arkansas lottery officials and a vendor cannot agree on terms for a contract extension.

Intralot Inc. had agreed to cut its share of revenue in a new three-year contract, but the company and the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery couldn't agree on a start date for the new pact.

Lottery commissioners were to have approved the deal Monday, but canceled their meeting, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper of Little Rock.

Lottery Camelot Global Services
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A proposal to hire an outside consulting firm to evaluate the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is to go before the Arkansas Legislative Council Friday. Lawmakers are concerned that lottery revenue has been declining for the last couple of years and have been pushing for the assessment.

Executives with Camelot Global Services, which lawmakers are considering hiring without taking bids from other companies, spoke Thursday before the lottery's legislative oversight committee.

Arkansas Scholarship Lottery
Arkansas Scholarship Lottery /

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is saying after five years of operation it’s meeting one of its lesser-known objectives: collecting unpaid taxes and child support.

Public Relations Director Patrick Ralston said the lottery has recouped nearly $1 million as part of an often overlooked part of the law which created the lottery.

“One of the lesser known provisions of that act requires that the lottery cooperate in identifying debtors who owe money to the state, specifically prize winners with unpaid state taxes or child support payments,” said Ralston.

The Arkansas lottery is to close three regional claim centers in a move that will make an extra $381,000 available for college scholarships. Six jobs will be lost.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission voted Wednesday to close the centers. Each of the centers employs two people.

Lottery Director Bishop Woosley says the workers would be able to seek other employment within the agency.

A center in Springdale will close Oct. 1, and centers in Camden and Jonesboro will close Nov. 30. Each closure is set for when the centers' leases expire.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is warning about telephone scammers making false representations about people winning a prize.

The lottery says there are reports of someone claiming to represent the lottery and calling Arkansans to say they had won a prize. The caller instructs the would-be victim to go to a local store and buy a pre-paid card called a Green Dot MoneyPak in order to pre-pay taxes on the prize.

The lottery says scammers have also provided a toll-free number that when called mimics the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery phone message.

Arkansas Lottery Pursues Tweaks To Auditing

Jul 17, 2014
Lottery Director Bishop Woosley
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas Lottery Commission is pursuing some adjustments to its auditing process in an effort to retain some revenue. Numbers released Tuesday show the lottery’s revenue dropping for a second consecutive year resulting in nearly $9 million dollars less in scholarship funds.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery's revenue and net proceeds have dropped for the second straight year.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports this year's revenue slipped by $29.5 million to $411 million. The amount raised for college scholarships declined by almost $9 million. The lottery projects net proceeds will continue to drop.

Bishop Woosley, director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, said Tuesday the revenue dip can be attributed to drops in sales of scratch-off and Powerball tickets.

The Arkansas House and Senate have approved separate measures calling for a moratorium on electronic lottery games like keno, lining up the chambers to adjourn their special session in the early hours Wednesday.

The House on Tuesday passed the moratorium on a 96-1 vote, while the Senate approved the measure on a 34-0 vote. Final votes are expected shortly after midnight Wednesday.

The measure bars the state lottery from launching monitor games such as keno until next spring. It's a compromise that eases an original plan to outright bar the games.

State Senator David Johnson (D-Little Rock)
Thomas Saccente / KUAR

A proposal prohibiting the state lottery from expanding into video monitor games advanced another step Tuesday morning. The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the bill without any dissenting votes. The measure will be taken up for a full Senate vote Tuesday afternoon. The House advanced an identical version Monday.

Democratic Senator David Johnson of Little Rock said even with the limit on lottery games expected to pass this special session exploring new revenue options for declining scholarship amounts will be re-visited.

A Lonoke man has won the Natural State Jackpot, claiming a $410,000 prize after the game had 63 draws without a top winner.

Arkansas lottery officials said Friday that the winner of the five-number draw is Curtis O'Hare, who bought his ticket at a Cabot convenience store.

The game began in August 2012 as an Arkansas-only numbers game. The game has about 575,000 possible number combinations but the odds are better than in national draw games, such as Powerball and Mega Millions, which lottery officials say makes it popular among players.