Working Out the Details for the State Lottery

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) -- At the start of the year with the legislative session looming for Arkansas legislators, leaders of the senate and house are discussing the important issues that they will face in 2009.

"The lottery is the number one issue we have in terms of complexity and in terms of potential to provide benefits to the state," said Arkansas House Speaker Robbie Wills.

After the November 4th approval by voters by 63% for a state lottery, Arkansas legislators have hit the ground running to decide how it will work.

"We appointed an ad hoc committee of house and senate members," said Senate President Bob Johnson.

Members of both the house and the senate are working together on this very important legislation and are taking cues from the other 42 states that already have state lotteries.

"We have the advantage of being able to use that which is good and leave behind that which has not worked," said Johnson.

And in looking at what does and doesn't work, Arkansas House Speaker Robbie Wills said they have a good idea of what they need to do and how they want it to be run.

"The models out there that seem to have the best results are lotteries that are run like businesses not bureaucracies," said Wills.

At a first of the year meeting in Little Rock, the house speaker and senate president say they are constantly working on the issue to get it done right the first time.

"We work on it everyday and when the bill is ready we'll release it and file it and proceed from there," said Wills.

The first issue is how the lottery will work in terms of what games will be played and how the payout will be done.  The second issue is how the money obtained from the lottery will be used to provide scholarships for students in the state.

Wills said one thing that they do want is a government appointed board to oversee the operation of the lottery.

"It's going to be an independent organization that has flexibility to run the lottery without political interference from the legislature in day to day operation," said Wills.