Wednesday July 2,2014 : COMPROMISE AVERTS TOTAL BAN ON ARKANSAS MONITOR GAMES (Update)
Monitor games such as keno to be put on hold until next spring.
The row in Arkansas over the state lottery's venture into online games like keno in its "monitor games" series has been at least partly calmed in the state legislature by a compromise.
Instead of the immediate and complete ban originally sought by Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey, the House Rules Committee has endorsed a compromise agreed by Hickey that would see further debate on the issue, but a suspension of the project until next spring.
The Committee sent the bill to the state House of Assembly for a vote Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to take up a similar proposal today (Tuesday).
Under pressure from lawmakers to increase sales and thereby tax revenues, the Arkansas Lottery Commission had earlier approved the start of keno, a bingo-style game that would have draws every six minutes, which players would track on monitors.
The lottery projected it would sell $12.5 million worth of tickets for the monitor games, which would create $3.8 million in extra revenue for college scholarships.
But some Senate lawmakers, led by Hickey, felt that the initiative expanded gambling and sought to halt the project with a complete ban in a special legislative session.
House Speaker Davy Carter, however, said he preferred the issue be considered during a regular session, giving lawmakers the opportunity to engage in a deeper discussion about whether the lottery should include such games, rather than trying to take up the matter too quickly in a special session.
"To me it seems the wisest thing to do is to just stop it all and let everybody regroup and have a real debate in a real general session," Carter told reporters.
Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said the moratorium would give lottery officials time to explain to lawmakers why they want to add the games.
He said that the amended proposal "…at least gives us the opportunity to visit the Legislature regarding it, so that is the preferable option obviously."