LITTLE ROCK, AR — With over 150,000 Arkansas students awarded almost half a billion dollars in lottery-funded Academic Challenge Scholarships, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is celebrating five full years of big wins and big opportunities as an engine for higher education and an educated, higher-earning workforce.
"Before that first ticket was bought at 12:01 a.m. on September 28, 2009, we could only guess at what this lottery could do for our state," Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said. "Everyone had an opinion, but no one — the taxpayers who overwhelmingly voted for it, the lawmakers who designed it, the [Arkansas Lottery] staff and Commissioners that worked night and day to get to that first ticket — no one knew for sure what that day would bring."
Woosley, who joined the Lottery staff as Procurement Director in July 2009, later serving as Chief Legal Counsel before his 2012 appointment to ASL Director by the Lottery Commission, said part of the gamble in 2009 was an economy still unsteady after a year of recession. "Had we thought more about what was working against us, we might have wished for more time," Woosley said. "But the mandate of the voters and the General Assembly was clear: GET it done NOW, GET it done FAST, GET it done RIGHT. We had 1,212 retailers across the state who stepped up to sell our tickets, and they have been the 'tip of the spear' ever since."
In the ensuing five years, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has built a track record of sales far beyond those anticipated on that chilly September morning in 2009. Here is the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, at five years, by the numbers:
- $457,510,855 in net proceeds, providing scholarships for more than 150,000 Arkansas residents pursuing opportunities and advancement through higher education at Arkansas's 47 public and private nonprofit colleges and universities;
- $2.25 billion in net ticket sales;
- $1.414 billion in prizes paid on tickets purchased in Arkansas;
- Almost $1 million in unpaid personal income tax and unpaid child support deducted from claims and returned to Arkansas taxpayers;
- $9.5 million in Arkansas state income tax and $35 million in Federal income tax paid on Lottery winnings;
- $125 million in ticket sales and cashing commissions paid to 1,870 licensed Lottery Retailers selling tickets in communities statewide.
With five years on the books, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is celebrating its Fifth Anniversary with a new look and newer, bigger instant, draw, and multi-state games. An ad campaign beginning in early October will say "Thank You!" to the people of Arkansas for playing the Lottery and making higher education a reality for more Arkansas students. Tickets for Monopoly Millionaires' Club, a premium multi-state draw game that offers multiple $1 million prizes and a top prize starting at $15 million and capped at $25 million, will begin October 19, 2014. And in January 2015, Lucky for Life, offering players a top prize of up to $1,000 a day for life, will make its Arkansas debut.