The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s monthly report on Arkansas lottery revenue shows a continuing decline for the year and includes the lottery’s stock excuse — no big jackpots on Megamillions and Powerball to lure crazed ticket buyers.
But there’s more at work here, beginning with the essentially flat trajectory of lottery revenue since its beginning 10 years ago.
There’s also casino growth, a direct competitor to the (stagnant) sale of scratch-off tickets. Casinos in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and West Memphis are booming. Another may open someday in Russellville. If some Georgia gambling interests are successful and qualify a ballot issue approved by voters this year, the lottery could be looking at competition from 15,000 more gambling machines statewide.
So, naturally, the lottery is back to talking about Keno, an instant-play game it could install in retailers around the state, creating hundreds or thousands of tiny mini-casinos. Legislators have resisted this gambling expansion before. I’d guess the established casino industry wouldn’t be too fond of Keno machines at convenience stores around the corner from Oaklawn, Southland or Saracen.
And there’s this …. on-line gambling is exploding.
Private interests can look after themselves. The state never should have gotten into the gambling business, particularly since poor people account for an inordinate amount of spending on lottery tickets and those tickets fund scholarships whose award scheme discriminates against poor people of color.