Arkansas Scholarship Lottery revenue grows by 8%; scholarship proceeds shrink

in Lottery

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery's October revenue increased by about 8% over a year ago, but the amount raised for college scholarships dropped by about 8%.

Last month, the lottery's total revenue increased from $42.6 million in 2020 to $46.2 million this year, the lottery reported Wednesday in its monthly report to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislative Council's lottery oversight subcommittee.

For the month, the amount raised for college scholarships dropped from $8.4 million in 2020 to $7.7 million this year, according to the report.

Lottery Director Eric Hagler attributed the dip to a normal accounting adjustment.

"We have not closed an instant [scratch-off] game in the last sixty days," he said Wednesday in a written statement. "Unclaimed prizes and the correlated adjustment will bring it back in line."

At the end of each fiscal year, the lottery transfers the balance of its unclaimed prize reserve fund, minus $1 million, to college scholarships under state law.

The lottery has been selling tickets since Sept. 28, 2009, and has helped finance Arkansas Academic Challenge scholarships for more than 30,000 college students during each of the past 11 fiscal years.

As for the lottery's increased revenues in October, Hagler said lottery officials have been pleased with performance of their current suite of games.

He said that there are early indicators of "a positive halo effect" from fiscal 2021 that ended June 30 or that "limited entertainment options during the pandemic created a stronger demand for lottery games."

"We hope that market gains achieved last year prove to be sustainable," Hagler said.

In October, the lottery's scratch-off ticket revenue increased from $35.4 million a year ago to $36.9 million, while the lottery's draw game revenue increased from $7.1 million a year ago to $9.1 million, according to the lottery.

The lottery's draw games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Fast Play, Natural State Jackpot, Lucky for Life, Cash 3 and Cash 4. Draw game sales are more profitable to the lottery than scratch-off ticket sales.

The lottery's gaming director, Mike Smith, said most of the lottery's draw games increased sales last month over a year ago, and Powerball revenues increased by about $1.6 million. The lottery reported Powerball sales at $3.07 million in October, compared with $1.54 million a year ago.

The Powerball jackpot was advertised at an estimated $635 million on Oct. 2 and at an estimated $685 million on Oct. 4, Smith said. Powerball had a $699.8 million winning jackpot on Oct. 4, and a single winner purchased the winning ticket in Morro Bay, Calif.

A family of themed scratch-off tickets was launched on Oct. 2 and provided a solid month of scratch-off revenue, he said. Last year, tickets were launched in the last week of September, rather than in October, he said.

FISCAL 2022

During the first four months of the fiscal 2022, which started July 1, the lottery's revenue totaled $190.9 million, compared with $189.5 million in the same period in fiscal 2021.

So far in fiscal 2022, scratch-off ticket revenue totaled $156.2 million, compared with $162.1 million in the same period in fiscal 2021, while draw game revenue totaled $34.3 million thus far in fiscal 2022, compared with $27.1 million in the same period in fiscal 2021.

The lottery has raised $32 million for college scholarships, compared with $32.5 million in the same period in fiscal 2021.

The lottery's unclaimed prize reserve fund totaled $2.8 million at the end of October, after receiving $127,936 in unclaimed prizes last month.

Hagler said the lottery's total revenue is $32.3 million better than the lottery's projected budget, and the amount raised for college scholarships is $6.1 million better than the lottery's projections through Oct. 31.

"We are mindful that rising fuel costs, inflation on staples, and supply chain constraints raise questions of uncertainty as we progress towards the half-year mark," he said.

"All of these issues were factored into our FY22 budget, and while we are pleased with early performance, we are also cautious in revising our outlook."

For fiscal 2022, Hagler has conservatively forecast a drop in total revenue from a record $632.5 million in fiscal 2021 to $509.2 million. He projected a reduction in the amount raised for college scholarships from a record $106.6 million in fiscal 2021 to $88.6 million.

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/nov/12/arkansas-scholarship-lottery-revenue-grows-by-8/?news-arkansas