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Raffle or crapshoot? 

The Arkansas Lottery announced Tuesday that the drawing for the Million Dollar Raffle game will happen on April 7 of this year, rain or shine, meaning whether all the tickets are sold or not.

Until now, a grey cloud has loomed over what was supposed to be one of the lottery's most successful games. We reported in mid-December that tickets for the raffle weren't selling nearly as quickly as expected. At that point, the lottery had only sold a little more than 200,000 of the 500,000 tickets.

An initial glitch might have hampered customer confidence in the game. Within a few days of the game's release, retailers paid out 42 $20 prizes to the wrong players due to an error.

The Insider has had numerous reports of another, even bigger hiccup. Sources tell us the tickets came out numbered incorrectly, with the winning tickets following such a distinct pattern that retailers, or anyone else who was in the know, could pocket the winning tickets themselves.

Lottery spokesperson Julie Baldridge says that's not the case.

"The raffle tickets are numbered as they are purchased statewide," she says. "So, for example, you could buy ticket number 257,224 in El Dorado at 5 p.m. today and number 257,225 in West Fork 10 seconds later. Any player who risks $10 on the expectation of buying a particular number may be disappointed. Further, a number of retailers have rules against employees playing during working hours."

Baldridge admits the game has had its share of setbacks.

"We at the lottery — myself, our security department, our reception desk — have received a few calls from players unhappy with aspects of the Raffle game. This is common for every game. The truth is that the primary query has been, 'When is the drawing?' " We answered that question and are happy that all prizes will be paid in full, as we pledged when the game began," Baldridge says.

Lottery officials hope that, with an end in sight, sales for the raffle will increase.  


Sweet on Game and Fish

Sheffield Nelson has not only been raising hell at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, he's been raising the caloric intake. Nelson, who is suing the commission over its committee system governance, has been dropping off "8 to 10 dozen" donuts from Krispy Kreme to the commission, maybe once a month, for years. (We just learned about it; maybe G & F employees are just now griping.) Nelson has a donut circuit, in fact; he takes dozens to Fellowship Bible Church as well. He's keeping Krispy Kreme in business.

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