Arkansas Scholarship Lottery's revenue and the amount raised for college scholarships in November both increased over year-ago figures

in Lottery

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery's revenue and the amount raised for college scholarships in November both increased slightly over year-ago figures, the lottery reported Monday.

The lottery's revenue increased from $36.2 million in November 2017 to $37.7 million last month, while net proceeds, the amount raised for college scholarships, increased from $6.7 million to $6.8 million, the lottery reported in its monthly report to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislative Council's lottery oversight subcommittee.

"The amount we raised for proceeds increased mainly due to the increasing draw [game ticket] sales versus [the amount sold for the same] month last year and our continued focus to operate as lean as possible to increase the amount we raise for the students," lottery Director Bishop Woosley said Monday. Draw games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Natural State Jackpot, Cash 3, Cash 4, Fast Play and Lucky for Life.

November is the fifth month of fiscal 2019 that started July 1.

The slight increase in total revenue and net proceeds in November from the same month a year ago came on the heels of big national jackpots -- a $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot and a $700 million Powerball jackpot -- in October. They fueled the lottery collecting $57.5 million in revenue -- the second largest of any month for the lottery since it started selling tickets in September 2009 -- and raising $11.2 million for college scholarships, the third-largest amount in any month.

In November, scratch-off ticket revenue increased slightly to $30.8 million from a year-ago figure of $30.6 million, while draw-game ticket revenue increased to $6.8 million from $5.5 million a year ago, the lottery reported. The lottery also reported collecting $49,930 in fees from its retailers last month.

"We continue to see a halo effect on our multistate draw game sales, after the [nearly] $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot and $700 million Powerball jackpots in October," Woosley said. "In addition, one of our marketing focuses this year has been to increase draw sales."

The lottery has helped finance more than 30,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships during each of the past eight fiscal years.

The total amount awarded for scholarships peaked in fiscal 2013 at $132.9 million, according to the state Department of Higher Education. The department has projected that about 34,200 students will receive Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships totaling $92.6 million in fiscal 2019. In fiscal 2018, 34,942 students received $91 million in scholarships. The Legislature cut the size of scholarships three times during the first several years of the lottery, after more students than projected received the scholarships and the lottery raised less money than initially projected.

In 2017, the Legislature created a new lottery-financed scholarship program called the Workforce Challenge Scholarship of up to $800 a year for students enrolled in high-demand certificate and associate degree programs. The scholarship is available for the first time this school year.

Through the first five months of fiscal 2019, lottery revenue totals $213.2 million -- up from $198.6 million during the same time in fiscal 2018 -- largely as a result of a $14.3 million increase, to $52.3 million, in draw-game revenue over the same period last fiscal year, according to the lottery's reports.

So far in fiscal 2019, the lottery has raised $37.1 million for college scholarships -- up from $34.7 million in the first five months of fiscal 2018, the reports show.

"After five months, we are up in sales over $14 million versus the same time last year and we are up $7.8 million versus budget," Woosley said when asked how the lottery is faring.

The lottery's unclaimed prize reserve fund totaled $4.4 million on Nov. 30, after increasing by $953,040 in November. At the end of the fiscal year, the balance of that fund, minus $1 million, is transferred to college scholarships.

Woosley has projected revenue of $482.9 million and net proceeds of $85.9 million by the end of fiscal 2019.

In fiscal 2018, the lottery collected a record $500.4 million in revenue and raised $91.9 million for scholarships. The latter was the third-largest amount ever for the lottery.