by Max Brantley
Arkansas lottery revenue is almost $4 million lower than a reduced projection made only two weeks ago.
A year-end report on revenue for fiscal 2011, which ended June 30, shows that the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery will be able to pass $94.2 million on to Arkansas college students this year. That's almost $4 million less than the $98 million revenue projection made by lottery director Ernie Passailaigue at the very end of June. And that was the result of a downgrade from an earlier projection of $105 million.
The report was sent Monday to the Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee. Passailaigue had said earlier that the downgraded projection was due to customers favoring less profitable scratch-off tickets over more profitable Mega-Millions and Powerball games. He couldn't be reached Tuesday to explain the sudden further erosion in revenue.
Brandi Hinkle, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said Tuesday that while the ADHC hasn't seen the report in question yet, the lowered figure shouldn't put any scholarships in jeopardy.
"We based the projections on the number of scholarships and the amount of each scholarship that would be awarded on different variables — kind of a best case and a worst case scenario," Hinkle said. "That amount [$94.2 million] actually comes in about mid-range of what we'd estimated, so it should not impact the number of scholarships or the award amounts of scholarships for this year."
The scholarships now pay $4,500 a year for new recipients going to four-year colleges, a reduction from $5,000 paid for the first year of the program because of below-expected revenue and demand. Loss of $4 million means a loss of support equivalent to almost 900 scholarships. Around 31,000 students, including 12,000 entering students, will receive lottery aid in the coming year.
Here's the year-end lottery report, which includes some figures on county-by-county sales, demographics of lottery ticket purchases and more information.