Powerball watch | Arkansas Blog

Powerball watch

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The state Lottery Commission is meeting. Powerball is on the agenda. Gerard Matthews will report before long.

But Twitterers say Lottery Director Ernie P. says

1) He'll want two lottery pros from his former home in South Carolina for his $225,000 top assistant jobs.

2) Keno (and other "monitor" games) are indeed legal. We never said otherwise, just said it was poorly advertised and a cheesy invitation to mini-casinos all over Ark.. But he said it's a very low priority -- 2 on a 100-point scale v. 99 for starting Powerball. Still a little too much emphasis for my taste.

3) Arkies will get most jobs and they'll be a diverse lot. (Pretty amazing how they've already filled a bunch of jobs, according to what a caller told me.)  Note from Gerard: Passailaigue has only hired one person so far, his assistant Julie Baldridge.  The jobs disappeared from the Lottery Commission website this morning due to a technical glitch.  Job posting are back on the lottery's site and the state's governnment jobs website.

4) Confusion about a housing allowance for Ernie was his fault. And he didn't take it, remember.

5) He's all about the scholarships. (A Twittering Rep. Duncan Baird wonders how many scholarships you can buy with $450,000 in salaries.)

UPDATE: As expected Powerball was approved by Commission (as was his job plan). Yee haw. Papa needs a new roof.

Read more from Gerard Matthews on the jump.

The commission accomplished three major tasks today.  They moved to accept Powerball's invitation to join the multi-state big-jackpot lottery game.  Commissioners also moved to approve a start-up budget for the lottery including nearly $2.6 million for operating expenses, $25,000 for conference and travel expenses and $740,000 for capital outlay.  Commissioners also approved an organizational structure put forth by Passailaigue. 

According to Act 1237, the budget appropriation for the lottery was $9.5 million.  The anticipated budget required, according to a document prepared by the Department of Finance and Administration, is $7,370,600. 

Passailaigue again stressed the need to hire two experienced VP positions, one for gaming, one for administration.  He said he realized the price tag for the positions was high, but said going that route, as opposed to hiring an additional COO position, would ultimately save money.  He joked that he was "spending more than a drunken sailor and giving drunken sailors a bad name."  He said one of the VP position would be filled by an attorney which would also save $100,000 or so. 

As per the recent dust-up over Keno, that played out mostly between Max and Rep. Robbie Wills, Passailaigue said Keno-type games were a very low priority and that decision was at least a year and a half down the road.  The commission, he said, would have to approve such games. 

The decision to go with Powerball over another multi-state game like Mega Millions was a matter of philosophy, Passailaigue said.  States with bigger populations usually join Mega Millions.  Powerball is a better fit for smaller states like Arkansas that tend to think about the lottery a little differently than larger states, he said.

Passailaigue will give a presentation to the Legislative Oversight Committee tomorrow where he and commission chairman Ray Thornton will present the proposed start-up budget along with Passailiague's suggestion for organizational structure. 

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