Hutchinson Will Sign Arkansas Lottery Measure

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (l.) said he will sign legislation to abolish the nine-member independent lottery commission and transfer administration to the Department of Finance. Hutchinson will appoint a new director. Lottery ticket sales, which support college scholarships, have been declining and recently a consultant said the lottery's image needed a "reboot."

Following passage by the Arkansas Senate, the state House of Representatives recently voted 84-3 to abolish the independent lottery commission and move management of the games to the Department of Finance and Administration. Governor Asa Hutchinson said he will sign the measure which calls for him to appoint a games director. The current nine-member lottery commission will be dissolved. State Rep. Robin Lundstrum said, “The simple fact that we all know is the lottery in Arkansas is in trouble. Big policy changes must be made.”

Arkansas voters approved the lottery in 2008 to raise money for college scholarship. However, ticket sales have been declining and its reputation needed a “reboot” according to a consultant’s report issued in December. Ernie Passailaigue, the lottery’s original director, resigned in 2011 after a legislative audit indicated revealed his $324,000 salary and questionable management practices.

Hutchinson’s spokesman J.R. Davis said there are not immediate plans to replace current lottery Director Bishop Woosley, who said he would “absolutely love” to stay on as director but will work with the governor’s office on a transition plan. “We will do everything we can to work with them to make this lottery as successful as possible to support the students of Arkansas,” Woosley said.

Supporters of the legislation said the reorganization can stop the revenue decreases for college scholarships and also save money by eliminating lottery positions already being performed by the state finance department.

State Rep. Fredrick Love cast one of the few opposing votes, expressing concern about abolishing the independent commission and politicizing student scholarships.