Upgraded Arkansas lottery mobile app sees increase in new users, officials say

John Foster of Maumelle buys a lottery ticket Jan. 12, 2022, at the Murphy Express at the corner of Chenal Parkway and Markham Street in Little Rock.
(File Photo/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)
John Foster of Maumelle buys a lottery ticket Jan. 12, 2022, at the Murphy Express at the corner of Chenal Parkway and Markham Street in Little Rock. (File Photo/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has a new mobile application -- AR Lottery + Club -- with the aim of making it easier for players to use and providing several new features.

The new app is available through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Mike Smith, the lottery's gaming director, said the app became available to the public on Jan. 27, and during the first week alone over 100,000 tickets were checked using the new ticket checker feature.

"The first week the app launched we saw a 31% increase in new users compared to the week prior," he said Thursday in a written statement. "1,919,761 tickets were entered into the program using the new app during the first month as compared to 1,842,017 tickets entered the month prior."

A lottery vendor, Scientific Games International, developed the new app for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery to give players more convenience when connecting to the lottery, its games and its player loyalty program, the Club, Scientific Games International said Wednesday in a news release.

"The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery wanted to offer our players a modern experience and convenient, easy connection to our games and loyalty club from their mobile device," Smith said in the release.

"With the new app, players verify tickets easily with the ticket checker and create digital playslips from the convenience of their phone," he said.

Biometric login makes it easy for players to access their Club account via the new app, Smith said.

The app's all-new ticket checker feature allows players to quickly check whether their tickets are winners, he said. Players can also use the app to create digital playslips which save their lucky numbers and play options, then scan the QR code at any Arkansas Scholarship Lottery retailer to quickly purchase games, he said.

Like the previous version of the lottery's app, players may connect to the Club to enter non-winning instant tickets in Play It Again drawings and other second-chance promotions, Smith said. They can also enter eligible instant and terminal-generated tickets to earn Points for Prizes that are redeemable in the online store. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery mobile app has been available for players since 2015.

In 2009, Scientific Games and the Arkansas lottery launched the first lottery loyalty program in the U.S., according to Scientific Games International. The company said the lottery's loyalty program is one of the most successful in the industry with more than 101.5 million tickets entered into the program since its inception, and the program has awarded more than 1.2 billion points to players to redeem Points for Prizes in Scientific Games' online store.

Lottery Director Eric Hagler said the lottery had worked on the new app for about a year before launching it two months ago.

He noted that lottery players "will still not be able to purchase tickets through the mobile app at this time."

In March 2020, the lottery started a pilot program with Jackpocket Inc. to offer sales of lottery games through a mobile app, but a physical ticket generated from a licensed lottery retailer is required, according to the lottery.

Only draw tickets may be purchased through Jackpocket, but Winners Corner in Little Rock is Jackpocket's licensed retailer, and the store sells instant tickets on site, said Scott Hardin, a spokesperson for the state Department of Finance and Administration.

In its strategic plan developed last year for the following five years, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery says it will be necessary for the Arkansas General Assembly to strongly consider authorizing the lottery to launch an iLottery digital platform to sell tickets to remain competitive and current with consumer demand.

In this year's regular session, legislation hasn't been introduced to authorize an iLottery digital platform.

The lottery is currently authorized to distribute lottery games through a single distribution channel of brick-and-mortar retail establishments, the lottery said in its strategic plan, in what its management identified as one of four material weaknesses.

Hagler said in December that the lottery is prepared for any contingency. "If there is no desire for iLottery, then we have a forward path in the mono-channel," he said in a written statement at that time. "If iLottery is authorized, then we will execute on that mandate, as well."

The lottery's major term contracts expire in calendar year 2026, Hagler said.

"If iLottery is desired, the ideal timing would be to align the launch with the implementation of new term contracts in 2026," he said in December. "This would mean that Lottery would need approval in 2025 in order to prepare for launch sometime in [calendar year] 2026-2027."

Hardin said Friday that "Regarding iLottery, Lottery's position hasn't changed since late 2022."

The lottery started selling tickets on Sept. 28, 2009.

It has helped finance Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships for more than 30,000 students during 11 of the past dozen fiscal years.

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