It’s just a one-time bump and not likely enough to allay budget concerns among Arkansas legislators, but a $177 million winning Arkansas Lottery ticket sold in Stuttgart is estimated to add $7 million in state tax revenue.
The Arkansas Lottery Scholarship confirmed Saturday – noting it is not an April Fools joke – that a winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased Thursday at the All Stop Valero at 408 E. 22nd St., in Stuttgart. It will be by far the largest winning lottery ticket purchased in the eight-year history of the Arkansas Lottery program. The second largest Arkansas Scholarship Lottery winner was from Conway and won $25 million playing Powerball in January 2010.
If the ticket sold Thursday is authenticated by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, it will be worth $177 million. The retailer will receive $50,000 for selling the ticket.
“This is a monumental day for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery,” Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said in a statement. “The player wins, but Arkansas wins, too. This will pay millions in state taxes, a big retailer commission, and this kind of attention helps promote our lottery’s mission, which is to provide scholarships for Arkansas students.”
Donna Bragg, advertising and marketing director for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, told Talk Business & Politics that the estimated tax revenue for Arkansas is $7 million. Bragg also said it is uncertain when the name of the winner will be known. She said the person could take weeks while working with with attorneys, accountants and others to prepare to receive the windfall, or the person could show up Monday morning in the lottery offices.
PARTIAL REVENUE RELIEF
The tax revenue will be welcome news for Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas legislators. Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, said there were some anxieties among lawmakers about the state’s revenue picture. The Senate leader plans to stay in touch with Gov. Hutchinson to consider budget options if the state falls short at the end of fiscal 2017.
In February, Arkansas’ Department of Finance & Administration reported that net available general revenue in February came in at $276.7 million, $3.2 million or 1.2% below last year and $40.9 million or 17.3% above forecast. Year-to-date net available general revenues totaled $3.43 billion, $19 million or 0.6% above year ago levels. With only four months left in the fiscal year, net available revenue is below forecast by $15 million or a decline of 0.4%.
Revenue issues will likely be a top issue for the Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislation Task Force, the Blue Ribbon panel created under the emergency clause of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s $50.5 million tax cut to reform Arkansas’ tax code. By law, the task force must hold its first meeting within 30 days after the session ends.
LOTTERY WINNERS, HISTORY
If validated and winnings go to just one person, Thursday’s ticket would put the number of Arkansas Scholarship Lottery-made millionaires at 55. The last million dollar prize won in the state was Dannie Mitchell of North Little Rock, who claimed $1 million from a $20 Arkansas Millions instant ticket.
Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has provided nearly $700 million for in-state college scholarships to Arkansas students, nearly $2 billion in prizes to players, and more than $182 million in commissions to Lottery retailers. More than 92 cents of every dollar of Lottery revenue goes to prizes, scholarships, retailer commissions and other expenses in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has provided funding for more than 235,000 scholarships to Arkansas students.