Arkansas Scholarship Lottery posts record proceeds in fiscal 2023 even as sales lag ’21 high

By: - July 11, 2023 5:48 pm

(Flavio Coelho/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The headline on this article was updated to clarify that fiscal 2023 sales lagged record sales numbers posted in fiscal 2021.

Arkansas’ lottery in fiscal 2023 raised an all-time high in scholarship proceeds — $114.7 million. 

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery’s year-end report also showed the fiscal year that ended June 30 saw the second highest sales revenues to date, $607.6 million. 

The record numbers coincide with post-pandemic inflation and wage growth across most sectors of the economy.

Lottery Director Eric Hagler praised his agency’s staff for last year’s results.

“We are in the entertainment business; however, we never lose sight of our objective of helping Arkansas students pursue a higher education,” Hagler said. “This mission will continue to have a long-term positive economic impact on our state.”

What is the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery?

Arkansas’ lottery began selling tickets in 2009 after voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing it in 2008. 

It funds several scholarships awarded annually by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education:

  • The Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship provides tuition assistance for Arkansans at two- and four-year public and private colleges.
  • The Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship is available for students applying for certificate programs in high-demand occupations.
  • The Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship provides financial assistance to eligible students in the state who want to take college courses while still in high school.

The Arkansas General Assembly earlier this year created the Arkansas Challenge Plus Scholarship, which will provide additional funding for students with an Academic Challenge Scholarship based on their financial needs. The program will start accepting students in the fall of 2024.

Since 2009, Arkansas’ lottery has raised more than $1.2 billion in scholarship proceeds.

Last year, $114.7 million in scholarship proceeds broke the record set in fiscal 2021 of $106.4 million. 

The $607.6 million in sales is second behind fiscal 2021’s $631.9 million.

Year over year, the lottery’s 2023 revenue exceeded fiscal 2022’s revenues by $28 million, and scholarship proceeds grew by $15 million, according to the lottery.

Proceeds climbed higher last year because lottery players purchased more tickets for games with higher profit margins, according to the lottery.

Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Eric Hagler
Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Eric Hagler (Photo courtesy of the Department of Finance and Administration)

The lottery last year paid nine individuals cash prizes exceeding $1 million and paid out $416.8 million in total, resulting in about $34.3 million in retailer commissions.

A spokeswoman for the Arkansas Division of Higher Education didn’t respond to questions on Tuesday, but the agency did provide scholarship data to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Last fiscal year, the state awarded more than $77 million to roughly 45,335 students across lottery scholarship programs. That was more than $900,000 scholarship dollars and less than the prior year.

Distributions and student participation in the Academic Challenge Scholarship have seen dips in recent years coinciding with college enrollment declines.

Arkansas is one of a handful of states where the lottery funds college scholarships. Those states too have seen record proceeds in recent years. 


In Tennessee, the lottery generated $485.6 million for scholarships in 2022.

In New Mexico, the lottery provided $63.5 million in education proceeds last year.

Kentucky saw $360.8 million in lottery proceeds in 2022.

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Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.