Officials, customers celebrate kickoff of Arkansas Lottery - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Officials, customers celebrate kickoff of Arkansas Lottery

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - Arkansas' colleges and universities celebrated the start of the state's lottery Monday as customers bought the first of the game's scratch-off tickets.

Customers at an Arkansas Exxon gas station we visited were ecstatic about the first day of lottery sales.

"Usually when they come in to buy lotto tickets, they buy something else," store manager Lavelle Frost said. "So they turn around and put their winnings into buying more tickets, so it's going to help out, and we've been busy all day."

Nearly a year ago, Arkansas voters approved an amendment to start a state lottery.  A state lottery commission then went to work shaping the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, aimed at promoting education.

"Finances are generally the major obstacle our students have to overcome to achieve the level of higher education they long for," said Dr. Glen Fenter of Mid-South Community College.

Currently, scratch off tickets in $1, $2, $4, and $5 denominations are on sale.  Powerball tickets will follow at the end of October, meaning Arkansas residents like Curtis Parham will no longer have to travel across the Mississippi River.

"It's good they got the lottery over here, so I don't have to go to Memphis to get a ticket.  Hope I win something," Parham said.

But Doug Ballinger, who owns a BP gas station in Memphis, says that could pose a problem for some businesses.

"It would just cut down on my lottery sales" he said. "We don't make a whole lot of money off lottery sales."

"You can play both," said Dr. Susan Ward, Commissioner of the Arkansas Lottery. "We're not discriminating. You can play Tennessee and Arkansas. Increase your chances of winning."

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