February 17, 2010 Edition

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Lottery sales soar in LawCo.

Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

Lottery sales throughout the state, including Lawrence County, have continued to be high with residents of Lawrence County spending more than $349,000 on the lottery system during January.

The state lottery launched Sept. 28 and had collected roughly $140 million in gross ticket sales by Dec. 31.

"The benefits have yet to be seen in Lawrence County," said County Judge Alex Latham, "but it will help young people and will give them the opportunity to attend college."

Roughly 30 percent of revenue will be used to fund public programs, including the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, which will provide scholarships and grants to Arkansas residents enrolled in public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities within the state.

Scholarships funded by the lottery system will go into effect during the Fall 2010 semester and an estimated $100 million will be given in scholarships during the first year.

"It is a big deal to be able to go into our elementary schools and to our high schools and say to every child that if you achieve a 2.5 grade point average over the course of your high school years, there is going to be a scholarship waiting for you when you get into a college or university," said Lt. Gov. Bill Halter during the Arkansas Rural Development Conference held in June 2009.

According to county officials, it is still too early to decide if the lottery revenue will benefit Lawrence County's economy or have negative impact.

"At this point the lottery system has not affected the people of Lawrence County," Latham said.

"It is really not showing up yet in our economy," Latham said. "You can't tell it's affecting people's ability to do things, but it will eventually affect our economy."

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