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Arkansas’ lottery revenue soars, helps fund scholarships


A gas station employee reaches for a lottery ticket in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, May 14, 2015. On Thursday, a legislative committee overseeing the Arkansas lottery meets for the first time since the independent commission running the games was abolished. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The drop in gas prices and closure of Arkansas’ three casinos amid the coronavirus pandemic has fueled the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery fund, as the lottery set a record for total revenue in the month of April.

At the end of each fiscal year, under state law, the lottery is required to transfer the balance of the unclaimed prize reserve fund, minus $1 million, to college scholarships.

The amount raised in April for college scholarships totaled $8.3 million, up from $8.1 million last year, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said lower gas prices and the closing of casinos likely had a positive impact on lottery sales since other forms of entertainment are currently closed.

Scratch-off ticket revenue initially had a decrease in sales when the virus first struck, but has since increased from $37.2 million to $43.6 million in the last month, the lottery reported.

For the fiscal year of 2020, Woosley projected a total of $89.3 million in net proceeds for college scholarships. The lottery has helped finance more than 30,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship per year for the past nine fiscal years.

The state Division of Higher Education forecasts that it will distribute $94.6 million in Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships to 33,315 students in fiscal year 2020.

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