Bill Halter had led the push for a state lottery, before voters apprroved the measure in November.
He issued the following statement about the official creation of the lottery:
What a great day for the future of Arkansas. Scholarship lottery legislation that passed both the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote is now a state law. Arkansas voters spoke loudly in November and the people they elected listened and acted in March.
With today's bill signing, some might say Arkansas becomes the 43rd state to have a lottery. I suggest a different perspective: Arkansas becomes the first state to have a lottery that devotes all net proceeds to college scholarships.
Arkansas voters had rejected previous lottery proposals because there was always a catch: They were tied to special interests. Arkansas voters, by nearly 2 to 1, accepted this lottery proposal because there was a guarantee: Every dime of net lottery proceeds must go to college scholarships for Arkansas citizens attending Arkansas colleges, two-year or four-year. Every dime! We have to make sure that happens.
We have a historic opportunity to develop the finest financial assistance program for higher education in the country. We can triple the amount of scholarship funding now administered by the state in just one year's time. We can make college accessible and affordable for tens of thousands of Arkansas students and families.
Lottery tickets should be on sale in Arkansas retail outlets this fall. The convenience stores who have set up shop just across our borders in Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma might not like to hear this but, hey, business is business. And, starting today, Arkansas is officially in the lottery business ... the scholarship lottery business.
Thank you, Arkansas voters - all 648,122 of you - for approving the constitutional amendment that set the stage for the scholarship lottery. To all the voters who were against this amendment, let's all come together behind the principle that every Arkansan who works hard and plays by the rules should have the opportunity for a higher education.
Thank you, John and Patti Bailey, and Ted and Sharon Bailey for your incredible generosity and selfless support of the HOPE for Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Campaign. Without the Bailey family, none of this would have happened.
Thank you Warren Stephens, John Tyson, Jermaine and Erica Taylor, Alan Hughes and the Arkansas State AFL-CIO, Ann Hines and the Arkansas Oil Marketers Association, former University of Arkansas Chancellor John White, the UALR Board of Visitors, "my old football coach" George Loss, and countless others who gave of their time, money and effort.
Thank you to the ad hoc committee of state legislators who worked hard to draft companion lottery bills that won the unanimous support of your peers in both the House and Senate.
Thank you to my terrific staff, for working this with me.
Thank you to my wonderful wife, Shanti, for living this with me and making the sacrifices that ultimately will lead to opportunities for generations of Arkansans.