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Buoyed by $1.5 billion Mega Millions and $700 million Powerball jackpots, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery's revenue of $57.5 million in October was the second-largest of any month for the 9-year-old lottery.

And the $11.2 million raised for college scholarships last month was the third-largest amount of net proceeds in any month, said lottery Director Bishop Woosley.

"We had an incredible month," he said Friday. Total revenue and net proceeds also were by far the most collected in any October.

The record for any month was $58.7 million in revenue and $13.8 million in net proceeds in January 2016, when the lottery was bolstered by a $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot run.

The second-largest month for money raised for scholarships was $12.8 million in March 2012, Woosley said. The lottery started selling tickets Sept. 28, 2009.

The lottery has helped finance more than 30,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships during each of the past eight fiscal years. The scholarships also are financed with $20 million a year in state general revenue and $20 million in reserve funds that cover temporary cash shortages.

The Legislature cut the size of these scholarships three times during the first several years of the lottery, after more students than projected received the scholarships and the lottery raised less money than initially projected. The total amount awarded for scholarships peaked in fiscal 2013 at $132.9 million, according to the Department of Higher Education.

The department projects that about 34,200 students will receive $92.6 million in Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships in fiscal 2019, which started July 1, said department spokesman Alisha Lewis. In fiscal 2018, 34,943 students received $91 million in the scholarships.

In addition, 159 scholarships have been awarded through a new lottery-financed program called the Workforce Challenge Scholarship, and another 582 "are pending acceptance," Lewis said. They would cost roughly $600,000 if they are all awarded, she said. The program provides aid of up to $800 a year for students enrolled in certificate and associate degree programs for high-demand occupations in information technology, health care and industrial manufacturing.

OCTOBER'S DETAILS

Draw-game revenue increased from $5.6 million in October 2017 to $24.2 million last month, while scratch-off ticket revenue declined slightly from $34 million to $33.2 million, the lottery reported Thursday in its monthly report to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislative Council's lottery oversight subcommittee. Revenue also includes fees paid by retailers that totaled $81,920 last month. On Oct. 31, the lottery had 1,929 retailers.

Draw games include Mega Millions, Powerball, Natural State Jackpot, Cash 3, Cash 4, Fast Play and Lucky for Life.

"Mega Millions sales went through the roof during the $1.5 billion jackpot run and Powerball sales were also high, given the $700 million jackpot," Woosley said. October was the second-best month for draw-game revenue, behind the $27.4 million collected in January 2016, he said.

Scratch-off ticket revenue dipped slightly in October from a year ago because "we had an incredible instant month, but just happened to be competing with the 2nd highest October ever for instant sales that included our first over-sized $10 game," Woosley said in a written statement, adding that "we had two huge jackpots that drew our players across from instants." Scratch-offs also are called instant tickets.

THE YEAR SO FAR

October is the fourth month in fiscal 2019.

In that period, revenue totaled $175.5 million, compared with $162.4 million collected in the first third of fiscal 2018, according to the lottery.

Comparing the first four months of the past fiscal year to this year, scratch-off ticket revenue inched up from $129.4 million to $129.6 million this year, while draw-game ticket revenue jumped from $32.5 million to $45.5 million. Draw-game tickets are more profitable than scratch-offs.

So far in fiscal 2019, the lottery has raised $30.2 million for college scholarships, up from $27.9 million in the same period in fiscal 2018.

The unclaimed prize reserve fund totaled $3.5 million on Oct. 31, after increasing by $697,477 in October. At the end of the fiscal year, the balance of that fund, minus $1 million, is transferred to college scholarships.

Woosley has projected revenue of $482.9 million and net proceeds at $85.9 million by the end of fiscal 2019.

In fiscal 2018, the lottery collected a record $500.4 million in revenue and raised $91.9 million for scholarships. The latter was the third-largest amount ever for the lottery.

CASINO IMPACT?

The lottery issued its monthly report two days after voters approved a constitutional amendment that authorizes the state to license four casinos, including the expansion of the electronic games of skill allowed by a 2005 state law at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis.

The amendment also will allow casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties, pending local approval.

Asked how casinos would affect the lottery, Woosley said Friday, "It is difficult to quantify the impact, but any new business that may take away money previously spent on lottery will definitely have some impact on our sales.

"We will just have to be diligent in what we do and continue to offer products that people want to buy," he said.

Last month, an official representing consultant Camelot Global in Arkansas told the lottery oversight subcommittee that voter approval of the constitutional amendment could present challenges.

"I can see there is obviously discussions taking place around sports betting and the introduction of potentially two new casinos and the upgrading of Oaklawn and Southland," said John Skrimshire, vice president of commercial operations for Camelot Global, which has offices in Philadelphia and London. "They're all challenges and I think this lottery is very fit to rise to those challenges, but ... I think it is important they be given the opportunity to at least have a level playing field on that."

He said the lottery faces "threats" not only from competition in the gambling industry but also from changes in the way people shop.

"Basically, you have got players who are no longer going into gas stations and even grocery stores or liquor stores and they're not buying lottery tickets because they can't get them any other way," Skrimshire said. "And this isn't a sales pitch or this isn't saying that we need to immediately approve interactive or online ... lotteries, but certainly we need to make sure that we have it in mind that the retail environment is changing."

A Section on 11/10/2018

Print Headline: King-size jackpots give Arkansas Scholarship Lottery record October

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