UPDATE: Lottery Commission wants police power, releases 2013 budget | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 21, 2012

UPDATE: Lottery Commission wants police power, releases 2013 budget

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2012 at 4:05 PM

The Arkansas Lottery Commission met today to, among other things, appoint a new chair and discuss the proposed 2013 budget. Touchy items, such as the search for a new internal auditor and the $20 lottery ticket lawsuit were barely mentioned. Internal auditor Michael Hyde submitted his resignation on May 11, for reasons that remain a bit murky. At today's meeting, all we learned was that the search was ongoing and the job description has changed a bit. Now the word "preferred" has been added to the earlier "required" experience working with a lottery, presumably because auditors with lottery experience are few and far between. Regarding the lawsuit over tampered with tickets the Commission is required to submit an opinion to the court by June 1.

Also of interest — Director Bishop Woosley mentioned that at the June 19 legislative oversight committee meeting, the legislature will discuss the lottery's request for expanded power for its security department, to investigate vendors and others suspected of ticket tampering, to issue warrants and to make arrests. Currently, the security department investigates fraud and if necessary, turns information over to the state prosecutors, but it doesn't operate as a state law enforcement agency. The lottery's aim is for this issue to be voted upon in January during legislative session. About a dozen other state agencies already have designated law enforcement status.

The 2013 budget was unanimously approved by the Commission, with the last minute addition of a $250,000 "promotional budget," at Woosley's request. This promotion will run for a specified time and advertise bundled deals on so-called online games, which are chances sold on drawings. Players who purchase the packages will pay for a few games and receive one for free, in order to introduce them to new games. The budget projects a $98 million net. The projection for this year is $102 million, but it is expected to fall short.

UPDATE: The budget can be viewed here.

For 2012, the lottery is under budget in expenses, including a $900,000 reduction in salaries. But the proceeds are also below budget, due to what Woosley termed an "over-optimism on online games." The number of lottery retailers remains fairly steady. The high point was June 2010, when the lottery had 1,920 vendors. Currently the lottery is at 1,870.

Ben Pickard was elected chairman to succeed Dianne Lamberth. George Hammons was elected vice chair and Steve Farris was elected secretary.

UPDATE: To answer a prosecutor's question — yes, results of investigations conducted under the police powers would be turned over to prosecutors, as other state agencies do. Some more info here on that.

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