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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley speaks at a subcommittee meeting Wednesday before a full commission meeting set for 10 a.m. - Photo by Gavin Lesnick

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.

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  • RestoftheStory
    April 16, 2014 at 10:28 a.m.

    Close it down. The lottery was a horrible idea from the beginning. All it did was bring in people like Al Capone that we had to clean out of Hot Springs years ago. When you gamble, you as an individual will eventually lose, and the crime it brings will cause the whole state to lose.
    Losing your money and all you own would be bad enough, but you lose much more than that when gambling comes into your state:
    1) Bankruptcy increases, 2) Crime, 3) Alcohol and other Drugs, 4) Smoking, 5) Mental Health, etc. Why are all of those billboards around Tunica advertising counseling about suicide if gambling is so great? It sneaks up on you, and it takes a hold of you before you know it just like any other addictive behavior. The best way to stop it is to never start.

  • jmoz
    April 16, 2014 at 12:39 p.m.

    It continues to appear as though those leading the lottery do not know what they are doing. When will we learn?

  • TheBatt
    April 16, 2014 at 12:48 p.m.

    Electronic Monitoring Games? Ummm... as in gambling games? Just what we need - further expansion of this corrupt (morally, fiscally, and socially) scam.

    Hell0 - the economy is not getting any better, the cost of the basic essentials (fuel and food in particular) are skyrocketing - so yes, lets try to squeeze even more $$$ from those who can least afford it (statistics show clearly that the majority of lottery income is derived from those in the bottom of the economic structure). The poorest pay the most...

  • Garycmillerlawgmailcom
    April 16, 2014 at 1:02 p.m.

    Lottery commisioners trying to keep THEMSELVES relevant. Close the despicable racket down.
    Much more money in drugs and counterfeit merchanise if the State really wants to run criminal enterprises.

  • fedupwithit
    April 16, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.

    Sounds like someone selling those monitors has been talking to the Commissioners. Martha Schofner says that she was just doing what was best for the people of Arkansas---right. We know now who benefitted from her actions and it wasn't the people.
    So now there is more expense to scam more money out of people that can least afford it. What a great situation the state has gotten into.
    I still say the commissioners' pay ought to be directly tied to the profits made by the lottery.

  • Walter601
    April 16, 2014 at 2:37 p.m.

    All this does is steal more money from the poor and give it to the lottery commission members. Lotteries are for chumps.

  • 000
    April 16, 2014 at 3:09 p.m.

    I think the lottery should take EBT cards. That's where the money is!!!

  • joymtnhawg
    April 16, 2014 at 6:46 p.m.

    I think it's a scam anyway. Your power ball, and mega winners are always from the northern states 95% of the time. And I think that the balls are weighted down also. Since they shut down the buying process 1 hr before the draw, the computer knows what numbers are left, and that leaves me to believe that's the reason you see the powerball being 3-4-5-21-22-PB22....this is an example only....most people plus the computer, will pick numbers that are spaced out, but I've seen time and time again how they bunch the numbers up, and what are the odds of that really happening with that many balls....5-6-7-18-19-PB19=Rigged.

    And for the Arkansas scratch offs.....try hiring some honest people who doesn't cheat/steal....I think since Arkansas has started this "scholarship program", the program has had two thugs who either stoled winning tickets or had a friend of the family go and buy the winning ticket, cause he knew the store that had it.
    I can tell you why the sales are down. 1. quit hiring scumbags to run the program. 2 give out more winning tickets. It's a simple fix "scholarship program" (my azz).

  • Morgancub
    April 16, 2014 at 6:51 p.m.

    Eventually they will authorize themselves to offer payday loans, or maybe put machines at high school & college sporting events.. This monster needs to die !!!