LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- The Arkansas Lottery Commission on Friday set Oct. 29 as the date when it wants the first tickets for the games of chance to be sold.
The commission approved issuing a request for bids for vendors interested in selling tickets, and also backed spending up to $30,000 to buy a car to be used primarily by the games' director.
Under the request for proposals seeking bids from companies to design, print and manage the games, the lottery commission requires that the instant-win, or scratch-off tickets, be sold by Oct. 29. Another request for proposals sets Dec. 14 as the deadline for selling other types of lottery tickets.
The proposals move up the November deadline that incoming lottery director Ernie Passailaigue had said last week he hoped to set for selling the first tickets.
"These dates are very ambitious, but they're doable," Passailaigue told lottery commissioners via conference call.
Under the calls for bids issued Friday, the commission would open bids for running the instant games on July 29, while the bid-opening for other games would be on July 23.
Lawmakers have said they want the first tickets sold by the end of the year so they'll know next year how to set the amounts for scholarships to be funded by the lottery. Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the lottery to fund college scholarships.
Passailaigue said he hoped to have the first contracts awarded by early August for the games. The request for proposals for the draw games includes multi-state games such as Mega Millions and Powerball, but Passailaigue said tickets for those games probably wouldn't go on sale until early next year.
Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who had championed the lottery amendment, applauded the move and noted the timeline would means tickets would be sold less than a year after the games were approved by voters.
"This is exciting news for Arkansas students and families," Halter said.
Commissioners also approved transferring $30,000 to pay for a car that would be used primarily by Passailaigue, currently the director of South Carolina's lottery. Passailaigue said he would need a sport utility vehicle with a navigation system and a trailer hitch.
Commission Chairman Ray Thornton said the car could also be used by other employees.
"It's for Passailaigue and his staff," Thornton told reporters after the meeting.
The commission voted earlier this month to hire Passailaigue at $324,000 a year, just shy of the salary cap approved for the job and making him one of the highest paid lottery directors in the country. Passailaigue defended the move to buy a car primarily for his use, saying he didn't view it as a perk, and said that South Carolina's lottery also provides him a car that he uses to drive around the state.
Passailaigue said he often uses the car late at night to deal with security issues or other emergencies that come up with the games.
"You're on call 24-7 when you work there," Passailaigue said.
Commissioners later voted to temporarily rent office space in Little Rock's River Market district for two months for $13,500. Thornton said the commission planned to continue looking for larger offices to lease permanently for the games.