Lottery revenues are expected to drop by $5.5 million next year because of the economy and the launching of a lottery in Arkansas, which kicks off next week, lottery trustees were told Tuesday. The lottery, which brought in $193.2 million for the 2009 fiscal year ending June 30, is targeted to bring in $190.5 million this fiscal year, then shrink to $185 million the next fiscal year, said Jim Scroggins, the Oklahoma lottery’s executive director. As a result, the lottery’s share for education also will drop. Scroggins said the lottery produced $69.2 million in the 2009 fiscal year, but projections call for education to receive $66.7 million this fiscal year and $64.8 million in the 2011 fiscal year. House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Ken Miller said he never thought the lottery would be consistent in funding education. "I’m not surprised that fewer people are choosing to flush their hard-earned money,” said Miller, R-Edmond. Arkansas is poised to launch its lottery Monday — earlier than expected. Seven of the 10 largest vendors of Oklahoma lottery tickets are in eastern Oklahoma, and they could see sales fall after Arkansas’ games start, Scroggins said. A large drop-off is expected of Powerball tickets now being sold to Arkansas residents. "Why would you drive from Arkansas to Oklahoma to play Powerball?” It’s estimated the Oklahoma lottery could lose as much as $12 million in sales during the first year Arkansas has its games, he said. That would result in a loss of $3.5 million to $4 million for education. The losses could be higher if Arkansas offers higher prizes than Oklahoma. Unlike Oklahoma, the Arkansas lottery does not have restrictions on proceeds. Oklahoma lottery trustees unsuccessfully attempted to get bills passed to increase the percentage of lottery revenues that go to prizes. They said removing Oklahoma’s mandate that 35 percent of sales go to education would increase sales and, as a result, mean more money for education.
William Paul, chairman of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission, said the lottery as of Aug. 31 has raised $288.1 million for education. Lottery sales in the state started in October 2005, almost a year after voters in November 2004 approved a constitutional amendment setting up the lottery.