A group opposing a state-run lottery asked the Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday to throw the proposal off this fall's ballot.
The Arkansas Family Council argued in a petition filed with the state's highest court that the proposed constitutional amendment's title and name should be found "inaccurate, incomplete and misleading" because they don't define lotteries and doesn't warn voters of potential consequences of authorizing a state-run lottery. The proposal leaves it up to the Legislature to work out the details of the lottery and the scholarships it would fund.
The ballot measure, if approved, would repeal the state constitution's ban on lotteries and the council contends that repeal would allow casinos in the state.
"The popular name and ballot title of the proposed amendment do not adequately inform the voters of the effect of the amendment regarding casino gaming," the complaint says.
Arkansas is one of eight states without a lottery. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has proposed establishing a state-run game and dedicating its proceeds to college scholarships. Halter estimates the lottery will bring in $100 million annually, though critics have said the revenues would be significantly lower.
Arkansas voters have twice before rejected lotteries, but earlier proposals tied them in with casinos.
Bud Jackson, a spokesman for Halter's lottery campaign, said he was confident that the measure would stand up in court and criticized the Family Council for filing the lawsuit.
"This is yet the latest example that the Family Council, a special interest organization, will do anything to impose its will upon the entire state of Arkansas and do anything to prevent Arkansans from having the right to vote on this themselves," Jackson said.
Jackson said the lawsuit has shut the door on any possibility of debates between the lottery campaign and the Family Council.
"We're not going to have an honest debate with an organization that isn't interested in dealing with the pros and cons of this issue," Jackson said.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who approved the language of the ballot title, has said he believed the proposed amendment would withstand any court challenge. McDaniel, however, has said he's undecided on the measure and raised concerns that it could open to the door to video lottery terminals akin to slot machines.
McDaniel said Friday that he had not yet seen the lawsuit, but planned to defend the measure diligently.
Halter has said limiting the definition of a lottery would have muddled the state's constitution and said he would be opposed to trying to add video lottery terminals in the state. He's also said he doubts that lawmakers would support allowing such machines in the state.
The Family Council filed the lawsuit days after reporting it received a $75,000 donation last month from Jim Walton, son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and chairman of Arvest Bank. The Family Council is one of four groups that have filed papers with the state to campaign against the lottery proposal.