You could call it crunch time for the Arkansas Lottery Commission. Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue fielded questions from members of the Jonesboro Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon. With scratch off lottery tickets set to go on sale September 28th, he says there's no time to waste.
"We've got about 1200 or so applications in right now, and 750 or so have completed everything so we're getting close to sending out the lottery license," said Passailaigue.
Passailaigue says with everyone from liquor stores to even barber shops applying to sell lottery tickets, he says probably 90 percent of the retailers that sell will be convenience stores or gas stations. Passailaigue says some places won't make good lottery retailers and they will be counseled by the commission, but he says anyone can apply.
"They have to pass two tests--they have to pass an FBI fingerprint check and they have to pass a check with the DF&A to make sure their taxes are paid. Other than that, they are good to go," said Passailaigue.
The money generated from the lottery will fund college scholarships. Passailaigue says how the money is divided will be up to the legislature and constitution. He says because the lottery is new to Arkansas and many states surrounding us sell lottery tickets, it's hard to tell how much the Arkansas lottery will bring in. He says he thinks more dollars that used to cross state lines will now stay here, and go to work at Arkansas colleges.
"All of those colleges are going to have more scholarship money next year because we started up early," said Passailaigue.
Passailaigue says he believes Arkansans' want a well run, financially and socially conservative lottery. While there has been some controversy over the salaries of some on the lottery commission, Passailaigue says it will be up to Arkansans' to decide if it's worth it and if the lottery has been a success and beneficial to the state, and it's people.
"Everybody has to make their own judgement up on whether 20 or 25 million dollars equates to a couple hundred thousand dollars of compensation for people who are skilled in this area," said Passailaigue.