This morning the lottery commission heard from the state Department of Higher Education about the status of the Arkansas Academic Challenge scholarship, which will now be funded with lottery dollars. Higher education director Jim Purcell told the commission that it was "the best of times, and the worst of times," alluding to the fact that the volume of scholarship applications has increased greatly (over 125,000, up from 23,000 one year ago) but so has the department's work load. Purcell told commissioners that higher ed staff were busy processing applications and that students could expect to hear about whether or not they've been awarded lottery scholarships by the end of July at the earliest, more likely the first of August. Institutions will start to see that money around October.
Lottery director Ernie Passailaigue said lottery sales have been close to early projections and would remain so as long as the state's "lottery-friendly" law remained "as is." Passailaigue was making a veiled reference to proposed changes in the lottery legislation that have been bandied about, such as outlawing ticket vending machines, which Passailaigue said would start to roll out in the early part of the fall. The director told the commission that doing so would cost the lottery $5 million per year, saying that lottery machines were the future of this "labor-intensive business." In other news, a Cash 4 game will be released later this month (July 14) and Passailaigue said the lottery was in talks with other groups regarding a regional southern lottery as well as an international lottery, but was not willing to provide details at this time.
ALSO: Ernie P. today explained how lottery vending machines are the "wave of the future."