Western preparing to combat Tennessee Lottery

Shawntaye Hopkins

Some dedicated lottery players want more than a few scratch-off tickets. And they’ll continue to travel across borders to get what they want.

Kentucky Lottery sales have been steady with some increases since the Tennessee Lottery began in January.

But Western administrators are still preparing plans to recruit and keep its Tennessee students, despite the creation of a scholarship program similar to the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship.

High school students who have a grade point average of 3.0 or better or a 19 on the ACT are eligible for as much as $3,000, according to the Tennessee Lottery Web site.

Western is considering financial aid for students who would be eligible for the scholarship. And the university will begin a telecounseling program on March 4 to help recruit prospective students.

Tennessee began its lottery on Jan. 20 with four scratch-off tickets. They have since upgraded to 10 instant scratch-off games.

Kentucky had a $4,000 increase in instant scratch-off ticket sales the week after the Tennessee Lottery started from the week before, said Chip Polston, vice president of communications, government and public affairs for the Kentucky Lottery.

“The serious lottery player that’s going to drive across the border wants more than those four scratch-off tickets,” he said.

The Kentucky Lottery has continued to thrive because the state currently has more games and better payoff rates, Polston said.

“There’s a whole range of products that are available in Kentucky right now that they don’t have, but they’re getting there,” he said.

Kentucky is expected to lose $70 to $75 million every year after two to three years, Polston said.

Tennessee will on Monday start a Cash 3 game, similar to Kentucky’s Pick 3, said Kym Gerlock, communications director for the Tennessee Lottery. Powerball, a multi-state lottery game, is expected to start by the summer.

About $18 million is expected to be lost in just Powerball sales, Polston said.

It will probably take about two years for the Tennessee Lottery to become more equivalent to the Kentucky Lottery in prize pay out and programs, he said.

But the lottery has already become a potential threat to Western.

Luther Hughes, Western’s associate vice president for enrollment management, said he read that admissions applications in Tennessee have increased by 25 percent.

“We are continuing to push as hard as we can in recruiting new students from Tennessee,” Hughes said.

Some Tennessee students currently receive a discount on tuition through the Tuition Incentive Program.

Western enrolls about 300 new Tennessee students every year, Hughes said.

Students who began in fall 2003 and current high school seniors from Tennessee will be eligible for that state’s scholarship, he said.

Western is considering developing a financial aid package for student who are eligible for the Tennessee scholarship, but no details have been released, Hughes said.

Current Western students will maintain contact with prospective students in the telecounseling program, said Dean Kahler, the director of admissions. Administrators are hopeful that the program will offset the effects on enrollment from the Tennessee Lottery.

“Feeling like they fit into the campus can be just as important or sometimes more important than the cost,” Kahler said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]