LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Gambling with interest is essentially what Senate Bill 119 would allow if passed.
A person can open a savings account that could earn lottery prizes, but any interest it earns goes straight to the Lottery Commission. The goal is to provide responsible gambling, and a boost to the lottery scholarship.
It hasn't been brought up for a vote yet. That will likely come late this week or early next week.
"A new idea that's been tried in some other states," Senator Robert Thompson said, D-Paragould, who authored the bill.
Participating banks would award monthly and annual prizes to its eligible patrons through a lottery game designed specifically for the account.
"Because it produces more money for college scholarships, it encourages savings for people who like to buy lottery tickets, and it also allows anyone who wants to buy lottery tickets to keep their money. If you buy a two-dollar lottery ticket now, and you lose that money, [it] is gone forever. This is a way you can buy lottery tickets and still keep that money," Senator Thompson said.
Lottery Commission member Bruce Engstrom pointed out a recent trend over the last year-and-a-half.
"The sales of the lottery tickets have been trending down, some of that could have been caused by the economic uncertainties that were going on. One of the risks that we may face might be some of the increased competition from our sister states," Engstrom said.
Patrons outside of First Arkansas Bank and Trust in Jacksonville had mixed reactions.
"A lot of folks don't have a lot of money to be messing with that. Depends on who you are I guess."
"Probably not, because I'm not interested in the lottery."
"I guess it would be a good idea as long it goes back to the scholarships."
"If it went to the scholarships for the kids and all, yeah, I could see the benefit."
"I'm one of those types of people I have to watch every dime I get. I'm on the lower income scale."
It is unclear at this point just how much money the bill could boost scholarships. Engstrom said he is not prepared yet to comment on that.
If this bill passes, on Thursday or Feb. 12, it will be up to the Arkansas Lottery Commission to develop rules and apply them.