by Max Brantley
John Lyon of Stephens Media compares county-by-county sales of lottery tickets with county-by-county scholarship recipients and comes up with an interesting anomaly. Scholarships generally track sales. This isn't too surprising because sales generally track population. The biggest county, Pulaski, sells the most lottery tickets and also has the biggest number of lottery scholarship recipients.
This is interesting, however: Jefferson County, the state's ninth largest in population, is the 2nd-biggest buyer of lottery tickets (far ahead of Washington County in third place) and doesn't make the top 10 in scholarships.
Benton County, the state's second largest, has the third-largest number of scholarships (behind Pulaski and Washington), but doesn't make the top 10 list of lottery ticket sales.
Lottery critics naturally see evidence of pernicious preying on poor in such figures. Lottery supporters see it as an anomaly perhaps explained by, say, transient ticket purchases in Jefferson County.
I'll let you decide.
The recently released lottery audit has lots more numbers to crunch. They'll show, for example, that the numbers are getting worse for Jefferson County, which this year is getting $3.5 million in scholarship money back annually on the $21 million spent there. Jefferson County had more than 900 recipients last year, the most recent year in the audit, but dropped to 777 this year, according to Lyon's article.