The Arkansas Lottery Commission agreed Tuesday to sell Mega Millions tickets next year, making multistate jackpots available to lottery participants four nights a week instead of two.
The panel unanimously voted to begin selling tickets for Mega Millions by Jan. 31. The state already sells tickets for the multistate Powerball game.
Arkansas Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue said he didn't know how much additional money the state would get from the Mega Millions game. Arkansas has sold $71.3 million in Powerball and scratch-off tickets since the lottery launched Sept. 28, Passailaigue told commissioners.
Four of the five states that border Arkansas and sell lottery tickets are considering or have approved plans to offer both Powerball and Mega Millions next year. Currently, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee participate in Powerball, while Texas offers Mega Millions.
"If we do not pass it, we could be in peril because we could lose some cross-border sales," Passailaigue said.
The organizations behind the games have agreed in principle to cross-sell tickets for both games beginning next year, but have left it up to individual states to decide whether they'll participate.
Officials with both games have said the cross-selling could lead to a national lottery next fall.
Passailaigue said he expects some increase in sales with the addition of Mega Millions, but he didn't know how many players would buy both types of tickets or choose one based on the jackpots offered.
Mega Millions holds the record for the largest U.S. lottery jackpot _ $390 million on March 6, 2007. The largest Powerball jackpot was $365 million on Feb. 18, 2006. Mega Millions drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday, while Powerball drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday.
"You have four drawings a week, and your sales spike during those drawings," Passailaigue said.
He said he didn't know how the size of jackpots in Mega Millions and Powerball would affect sales. Players might buy tickets for the game with the bigger jackpot or buy tickets for both, he said.
The lottery commission also agreed to add two new games next year, a twice-daily Cash 4 draw game and an instant win ticket. The commission has already approved a twice-daily Cash 3 draw game that will begin Dec. 14.
Passailaigue has predicted the lottery will sell more than $400 million in tickets in its first year. Voters approved the lottery to raise money for college scholarships.