Arkansas Lottery Begins Licensing Retailers

Murphy Oil USA station first in line

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- State officials on Wednesday awarded the first license to sell Arkansas lottery tickets to a Magnolia gas station whose parent company started a college scholarship program in 2007, said the Associated Press.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission issued the license to a gas station owned by El Dorado, Ark.-based Murphy Oil USA Inc., clearing the way for the store to begin selling scratchoff tickets when they go on sale September 28. The license is the first of nearly 1,800 retailers expected to be cleared for ticket sales by late next month.

Lottery [image-nocss] director Ernie Passailaigue said the lottery decided to award the first license to Murphy Oil partly because of the scholarship program Murphy Oil Corp. started in the town of El Dorado. The program offers scholarships to every graduating senior in the El Dorado School District.
Passailaigue said the program highlights the state lottery's mission to raise money for college scholarships. Voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the lottery in November.

"This is a perfect fit for us," Passailaigue said. "It symbolizes what this lottery is all about."

Lottery Commission chairman Ray Thornton noted that Murphy Oil USA also owns a South Carolina gas station that sold the winning $259.9 million Powerball ticket that was claimed this week. The lottery will begin selling Powerball tickets October. 31.

"We don't expect you all to turn in another Powerball winner that quickly, but we do expect that with your help we're going to reach the kind of effort you have made in El Dorado," Thornton said.

More than 1,200 retailers, ranging from convenience stores to hunting and fishing supply shops, have applied for licenses to sell tickets. Murphy Oil plans to sell tickets at all 57 of its locations in Arkansas.

"I think it's another value-added product that we can offer our customers," Hank Heithaus, president of Murphy USA Marketing Co., the retail division of Murphy Oil USA, told AP. "It's an additional sale we can have in the store. A guy comes in for a Coke or a snack, he may get himself a lottery ticket as well."

Under rules approved earlier this year, retailers approved to sell tickets will be paid 5 cents for every dollar sold and would receive 1 cent for every dollar redeemed. Retailers are required to redeem tickets up to $500 under a state law setting up the Lottery Commission.

Larger prizes can be redeemed at three regional claims centers the lottery plans to set up around the state, as well as at the commission's Little Rock headquarters.

Retailers selling winning tickets of $10,000 or more will get 1 cent for every dollar of prize money claimed, but the commission can't exceed $25,000.

Intralot, the firm chosen to help set up the games, plans a series of training sessions for interested retailers, regional director Steve Beck told the commission.

Passailaigue has estimated that the games will raise at least $400 million annually.