LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – HB1869 was filed recently and looks to expand the offerings of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. The bill would specifically allow for Keno and iLottery to come to Arkansas.
Keno is a number draw game similar to Powerball where players pick numbers and win progressively larger amounts the more they match.
Bill sponsor, State Representative Aaron Pilkington, said this expansion would help fund college scholarships, “I think it’s a great way for us to help our students and help Higher Ed.”
Jerry Cox with Family Council says under this bill any lottery retailer could install any number of Keno machines on their premise. He says Keno is more of a casino style game and believes communities do not want that. He said, “So you have your own little miniature casino out here under this bill.”
Pilkington says this bill would hopefully keep Arkansas dollars in Arkansas, “But I’d much rather have someone be able to play Keno in Fort Smith instead of playing a slot machine over in Oklahoma.”
William Raveling plays the lottery occasionally and said he would be open to the idea of Keno being allowed in Arkansas, “It’ll add a little more excitement to it all you know kind of give it a new spin.”
The iLottery element of HB1869 would allow players to access games on their desktop or cell phones. Users could buy draw game tickets such as Mega Millions, scratch off tickets, and play slot-like games for money. Cox said believes this could harm those with gambling addictions, “You can gamble right there on your cell phone and it’s going around with you all the time that there’s a potential they are to lose a lot of money really fast.”
Raveling, while open to Keno, disagrees with phones being used to gamble, “Nothing on the phone nothing on the phone just “no” I’m out.” He also said the ability to gamble from cell phones opens up the possibility for scams and for people to set up fake accounts.
Pilkington said all the precautions would be taken, especially for those with gambling addictions, “We’re going to do everything we can to put in the safeguards, that it’s responsible and I think that’s what Arkansas expects us to do.”
He also said Arkansas would be well ahead of the curve when it comes to this type of offering for the lottery, “Make sure that we’re ahead of the trends, that we are being able to capture things and that we’re able to make sure that it’s done in effective way. We’re gonna be in the driver seat as opposed to playing catch-up.”
Currently Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Washington D.C. have iLottery.
The bill is scheduled to be discussed in the House Rules committee next week.