Arkansas voters get first lottery-only proposal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A proposal backed by Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter offers Arkansas its first chance to vote solely on whether the state should get into the business of scratch-offs and lottery drawings to fund college scholarships. Still, the proposal remains a political gamble for Halter, a Clinton administration official just getting his start in state government.

Halter's proposal would fund college scholarships through the games, likely to mirror those in surrounding states. Halter says the state likely would join either the Mega Millions or Powerball cabals to boost its pay outs.

Though the state Legislature ultimately would design the games, Halter's campaign feels the lottery could draw in millions for Arkansas, some of which is already heading out to surrounding states. During his run for governor in the Democratic primary, Halter said a lottery could bring in as much as $250 million, a figure that he said was based on lottery revenue in Georgia. Now, Halter's Hope for Arkansas committee estimates a lottery could bring in $100 million, a per-capita estimate based on net lottery proceeds for each of Arkansas' surrounding states with lotteries.

However, opponents worry the lottery will subsidize the scholarships on the backs of the state's poor.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)