Arcade Arkansas organizes for ‘amusement machine’ referendum with taxes for scholarship lottery

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,440 views 

A new ballot question committee, Arcade Arkansas, filed a statement of organization a week ago. The group proposes an amendment to the state Constitution to “authorize coin-operated amusement machines within the state of Arkansas and to support the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.”

The amendment would impose a new 20% tax on coin-operated amusement machines and steers 100% of that tax revenue to the state lottery. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery would issue licenses through a merit-based selection method and the number of amusement machines at any one location is limited.

According to language submitted to the Secretary of State’s office, the proposed amendment would require “some skill of the player” that would allow for an accrual of points for potential “redeemable prizes,” which include:

  • Free replays;
  • Merchandise limited to non-cash merchandise;
  • Prizes, toys, gift certificates, or novelties under $5 in value; or
  • Lottery tickets;

“Redeemable prizes” shall not include “cash, alcoholic beverages, firearms, or any product containing tobacco,” according to the proposal.

“The amendment authorizes amusement machines currently legal under Arkansas law to be taxed at an elevated 20% with all proceeds benefitting the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery,” said Jason Cline, spokesperson for Arcade Arkansas.

“In a time where college tuition and student loan debt are spiraling out of control, it is imperative that solutions be offered to fund college for all Arkansans. Under this amendment, these amusement machines would be licensed and regulated by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery and redeemable prizes do not include cash, but are limited to merchandise valued at less than $5 and lottery tickets,” Cline said.

Proponents of the measure said they see the benefits for veterans’ organizations across the state, noting that places like Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Halls and American Legion Posts will be able to offer these machines as entertainment and generate revenue to provide events for veterans.

“Every day, veterans across the state congregate at veterans’ organizations, and this will provide the funding for these organizations to continue to offer entertainment and events for those that have honorably served our great country. This proposed amendment would be an added benefit to help reach veterans in Arkansas,” Cline said.

For the proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot at the November 3, 2020 general election, Arcade Arkansas must obtain approximately 90,000 signatures of registered voters by July 3, 2020.

On Arcade Arkansas’ organizational paperwork, William Beams of Hot Springs and James Johnson of Searcy are listed as the chairman and treasurer, respectively.