LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery raised nearly $92 million for college scholarships in fiscal 2018, the third-largest amount raised in its nine years of operation.
The lottery also collected a record $500.4 million of revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The lottery reported the figures to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislative Council’s lottery oversight subcommittee.
The only other fiscal years where the lottery raised more than $90 million for college scholarships were fiscal 2011 and 2012. Net proceeds for those years totaled $94.2 million and $97.5 million respectively, according to the lottery.
The lottery has been operating since 2009, helping finance more than 30,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships during each of the first eight fiscal years. Net proceeds didn’t set a record this past year because lottery players prefer higher-priced scratch-off tickets with lower profit margins, Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said Tuesday.
It has become “more of a challenge each year to increase our return (for scholarships) because the players were introduced to higher price point tickets in a shorter timeframe than normal and they continue to gravitate to the higher price points that have a lower margin,” Woosley said.
Information on the total scholarships awarded in fiscal 2018 wasn’t available to the newspaper Tuesday, but the lottery reported the figure last month at $91.8 million for more than 34,900 students.
Lawmakers have criticized the agency far less with Hutchinson overseeing the lottery than they did when a commission controlled it.
“With the move to place the agency under Gov. Hutchinson and within the Department of Finance and Administration, we have had more time and support to focus on our mission, which is to raise money for scholarships for Arkansas residents,” Woosley said.