The Arkansas Lottery Commission voted Wednesday to approve electronic-monitoring games a day after a legislative panel expressed its lack of support for the measure.
The Legislature’s lottery oversight committee on a voice vote Tuesday passed a motion of nonsupport for monitor games, which lottery Director Bishop Woosley has pitched as a way to increase lagging sales.
"You'd like everything to be unanimous," Woosley said after the vote Wednesday. "I think what the commission said today was 'we're vested with the power to make the decisions regarding what we think's best for the lottery, we respect the decision of the legislature ... but we've asked the director to come to us with ways to build revenue. He came to us and we feel we have the power to do this and we're going forward with it.'"
He said the lottery would look to implement monitor games by this fall. The games entail buying a ticket from a clerk and then watching numbers drawn on a monitor.
The lottery may negotiate to get the monitors from one of its gaming vendors as part of a new contract or it could buy the monitors on its own, Woosley told the commission.
Commissioner Mark Scott made the motion to approve pursuing monitor games, repeating an analogy Woosley made at the meeting Tuesday that McDonald's wouldn't be as successful if they sold only "Big Macs and Quarter Pounders."
"Retailers in the state deal with that all the time — how do you stay relevant?" Scott asked before the vote, noting that the lottery needs to grow. "I think what our director is suggesting is the best way to do it."
Commissioner Dianne Lamberth was the only member who voted against the monitor games motion. She said she wanted to see more consensus on the matter between the commission and legislators before supporting it.
"I thought if we talked about it with them, if we sat down a little bit longer with them, that they might understand the issues a little bit better," she said. "What we are and what we aren't and what the game is not."
Woosley said it's difficult to project how much sales the monitor games will generate because it depends on the number of retailers that add them. But he said he is hopeful it will lead to $4 million to $5 million in proceeds.
The vote came during a meeting in which Woosley said Arkansas Scholarship Lottery net proceeds in March were down 25 percent from a year before and more than 5 percent below budget.
Net lottery proceeds for scholarships in March were $7.3 million, down 25.1 percent from nearly $9.8 million in March 2013. The recent figure was 5.1 percent below the $7.7 million predicted in the lottery's revised March 2014 budget.
The net proceed figures do not include unclaimed prizes and also would have been higher if not for a $1 million ticket winner claiming his prize in the month, Woosley said.
Instant ticket sales were down 14.4 percent, from $38.7 million last March to $33.1 million this year. Online tickets were down by a smaller margin, 2.5 percent, from nearly $8.3 million to nearly $8.1 million. Total revenue was down 12.3 percent from a year earlier.
March instant tickets, which cover scratch-off games, surpassed the $32.2 million budgeted amount by 2.9 percent. Online tickets, which covers games such as Powerball and Mega Millions, were 5.1 percent below budget.