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Oklahoma Lottery worried about prospect of Arkansas lottery

Sep 19, 2008, 12:15 pm

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Oklahoma Lottery

Already falling short, Oklahoma Lottery sales could suffer even more from Arkansas competition

A proposed lottery in Arkansas would devote more sales revenue to prizes, giving it a critical advantage over Oklahoma's game, Oklahoma's lottery director says.

Oklahoma law requires 35 percent of sales revenue to go to the state, reducing the size of jackpots, making the game less attractive, hurting sales and ultimately resulting in less money for the state, lottery director Jim Scroggins told lottery trustees Tuesday.

The Arkansas lottery, if approved by voters on Nov. 4 wouldn't require a fixed percentage of revenue to go to the state. This would allow it to generate bigger jackpots and more sales, Scroggins said.

Lt. Gov. Jim Halter, the main proponent of the Arkansas lottery proposal, wants Arkansas to avoid such a fixed percentage mandate "because it's proven to be ineffective in other states."

As of December, Oklahoma ranked last in prize payouts among the Unites States' 41 lotteries, and the state ranked 39th in per-capita profit.

In fiscal year 2008, the state collected $71.6 million from the lottery, which was $14.6 million below projections made in early 2007, according to the Office of State Finance.

This year's projection of lottery collections in Oklahoma is $72.8 million. So far, sales are below last year's.

Lottery officials tried during this year's legislative session to get the 35 percent restriction removed, but the bill didn't make it out of committee.

Six of Oklahoma's top 10 lottery retailers are along the Arkansas border.

If Arkansas creates a lottery and makes available larger prizes than Oklahoma, not only would Oklahoma lose most of its sales to Arkansas residents, but many more Oklahomans likely would spend their lottery allowance in Arkansas, Scroggins said.

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