- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A state senator has asked the Arkansas Lottery Commission to reconsider or delay its decision to pursue the implementation of electronic-monitor games that are aimed at bringing in more revenue to fund college scholarships.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, told lottery director Bishop Woosley in an email last week that the lottery should at least delay the games until the Legislature can weigh during its regular session next year.

“I believe, at a minimum, that the decision to introduce these ‘games’ should be deferred until the will of the Legislature can be determined at that time,” Hickey said in his email to Woosley, who forwarded the message on to commissioners.

The commission authorized its staff last month to move forward with the games, where players can buy tickets for games such as keno and watch drawings every few minutes on electronic monitors in bars and restaurants.

The lottery is trying to boost revenue after ticket sales declined in recent years. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ls6F0d ), lottery officials estimate that the monitor games would bring it about $12.5 million in ticket sales in fiscal year 2015 - $3.5 million of which would go toward scholarships.

“All of these numbers are contingent on there being no delays, that we have enough retailers to sell, that the sales occur for the full fiscal year from September to June, etc.,” Woosley said.

For the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, lottery revenues are down by $18 million, compared to a year earlier. That revenue dip caused Woosley to cut his projection for scholarship proceeds from $89.5 million to $82.7 million for the current fiscal year.

Lottery Commissioner Raymond Frazier said he hasn’t changed his mind since he voted last month to proceed with the monitor games.

“We need new players and new money. The newness of the lottery has worn off,” he said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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