The Arkansas Lottery Commission met this morning in it's first regular meeting in more than two months. Lottery director Ernie Passailaigue delivered a report to the commission that outlined budget projections based on the lottery's progress so far. Passailaigue said sales were "nothing short of astounding," as the lottery has grossed over $140 million in sales since its launch in late September. He will deliver a similar report to the legislative oversight committee, which meets tomorrow at the State Capitol.
Passailaigue answered criticism that lottery sales had detracted from other sources of state revenue. He said that prize money, commissions to retailers, advertising dollars and scholarships all stay in-state. "Other [surrounding] states have been affected by this," he said. "Tell me how money that was leaving this state [and going to other lotteries] but is now staying here is a bad thing."
Commissioner George Hammons asked Passailaigue whether demographic information was being collected on players' racial background and socio-economic status. The director said at this point, no such study was underway but the commission would begin to look at that information one year after the lottery has been in place. Commissioner Hammons said he would like to see such a study undertaken as soon as is technically feasible. "That's part of the dialogue that's going on in the state and we need to be able to address it," Hammons said.
Passailaigue released some financial information in a report handed out to commissioner's and members of the press. As of December 31, 2009, the lottery grossed a total of $140,300,000. So here's the breakdown: Of that total, $91.9 million has been paid in prizes, $29.4 million has gone into the scholarship fund, $7.9 million was paid to retailers in commissions, $6.4 million went to gaming contracts. $3.4 million went to administrative costs, including employee salaries and the commission spent $1.7 million on advertising.
Twelve-month projections for instant ticket sales, draw games, Powerball, MegaMillions and other online games have been bumped up to $468,350,000 (from Passailaigue's initial estimate of $400,000,000).
In other business, the commission also voted to approve a bid from Bancorp South to provide directors and officers liability insurance. The bidding process began in October. The commission received two bids, one from Bancorp South and the other from Regions Insurance. Director of procurement for the lottery, Bishop Woosley, said the two bids were very similar. In the end, the commission decided to go with the lower-priced bid.
The Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee will meet tomorrow at 1:30, in room 151 of the State Capitol building. Passailaigue will present a report to legislators. The oversight committee will aslso discuss proposed rules for the Arkansas Challenge Scholarships, which will be funded through the lottery. Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Dr. Jim Purcell, will be on hand. The committee will also present proposed legislative recommendations for the 2010 fiscal session.