- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Eight employees at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery could have their positions axed if the lottery becomes part of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, according a department document.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Abxm37 ) reports that the loss of the eight positions - ranging from the department’s spokesman to a postal courier - would reduce the salary load by more than $400,000 a year. The newspaper obtained the document Friday in a Freedom of Information Act request.

The lottery’s annual salaries for 78 employees total nearly $4.2 million, according to a fiscal 2015 budget that the lottery submitted to the Legislature. The lottery currently employs 72 workers, according to finance department records.

State Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, has proposed legislation that would create an Arkansas Lottery Division in the finance department, abolish the nine-member Lottery Commission and require Gov. Asa Hutchinson to appoint a lottery director.

Tim Leathers, deputy director for the finance department, said Friday that the document created by the department’s internal auditors doesn’t reflect “any conclusion” by finance department officials and is simply the result of a “fact-finding mission” by internal auditors.

Last month, a consultant recommended by Hickey told lawmakers that the lottery has too many scratch-off and draw games, lags behind its peers in per-capita sales and profits, pays more than its peers do to vendors, and isn’t perceived as trusted.

“The overriding strategy must be to move the lottery away from a gambling organization to a consumer goods sales and marketing organization,” Philadelphia-based Camelot Global Services Inc. said.

It recommended that the governor appoint a majority of the Lottery Commission. The governor, House speaker and Senate president pro tempore each appoint three commissioners under current law.

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