LITTLE ROCK — The state lottery director and members of the state Lottery Commission said Monday they are concerned about the potential impact on lottery revenue if proposed constitutional amendments allowing casino gambling get on the November ballot and are approved by voters.
The two proposed amendments by professional poker player Nancy Todd of Little Rock and Texas businessman Michael Wasserman would permit them to open casinos in certain Arkansas counties. Casino gambling is currently prohibited under the state constitution.
Secretary of State Mark Martin has rejected both measures but has certified them for the ballot while their supporters appeal his decisions to the state Supreme Court. If the court upholds Martin’s decisions it could order that votes for the measures not be counted.
During a meeting of the Lottery Commission in Fayetteville, Commissioner Raymond Frazier of Little Rock asked Monday whether the lottery staff had looked at other states to see what the impact of casino gambling is on state lotteries.
Lottery Director Bishop Woosley and Commissioner Bruce Engstrom of North Little Rock both said they expect lottery revenue to take a hit if the state gets casinos.
"I don’t have any doubts that it will have a negative impact. How much I don’t know," Woosley said after the meeting.
Frazier said after the meeting the issue concerns him because of where the money generated by the two different kinds of gambling goes.
"Casino money goes to private corporations, and lottery dollars go to scholarships," he said.
The state lottery funded $97.6 million in college scholarships in the fiscal year that ended June 30.