Mississippi Ready to Consider Lottery Gaming

by Kyle Miller

Phil Bryant, Governer, MississippiMississippi legislators now seem willing to discuss lottery gaming.

Across the United States, there are many choices when it comes to gambling games. Some states offer full casino gaming while others only dabble in certain gaming options like bingo or the lottery. Several state use the lottery as a way to fund government programs, provide education assistance, benefit senior citizens and more. The state of Mississippi is one of just a few that does not offer lottery gaming but that may soon change.

Warming up to Lottery Gaming

The state of Mississippi seems to be warming up to the idea of lottery gaming to help bring in much-needed revenues. The state has avoided offering the lottery for several decades but now may be changing how they view the gambling games. Governor of the state, Phil Bryant, seems to have decided that he will change his original opinion of the lottery from a silly notion to one that might work.

Speaking with the Clarion-Ledger, Bryant stated that he is now willing to discuss offering a lottery in the state. In a statement, Bryant said that he would be open to a general discussion on the topic of a statewide lottery. However, he would be opposed to the revenue from the lottery being dedicated to specific expenses such as public education. The governor feels that the future of the children in the state should not be left up to a game of chance.

The comments by the governor have many in the state feeling hopeful. He is the first governor in the state to speak in a positive manner about the lottery in almost thirty years. Back in the early 90s, the then governor, Ray Mabus, tried to pass legislation to offer lottery gaming but was unsuccessfully, even failing to be elected a second time due to his actions.

Now, talks are ramping up in regards to lottery gaming, especially since the state is cash-strapped and residents are traveling to other states to purchase tickets. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves has stated that he would have to see whether the lottery would be able to bring in new money or take away from the casinos in the state as well as sales taxes before he would say yay or nay.

Reeves stated that the economic question that has to be considered is if a state lottery would add to the economy or would it shift the disposable income of residents from one outlet to another? Reeves also stated that it needs to be considered as to if a perceived increase in revenues from a lottery would be offset by a reduction in gaming receipts or sales tax collection.

Reviewing Other States

Perhaps Mississippi legislators need to review other states to see if lottery gaming would work. Several states in the US have reported significant gains when it comes to lottery gaming including the state of Texas. The Texas Lottery has reported their annual sales earnings and for the year have been able to produce $5 billion. This is the first time the lottery in the state has hit such high peaks since 1992, when the lottery was first introduced.

Gary Grief is the Executive Director of the lottery in Texas who stated that the large revenue numbers came from scratch-off tickets and the Powerball. Scratch-offs earned over $3.7 billion for the state while the Powerball was able to produce $1.5 billion.

It will be interesting to see if legislators in Mississippi finally begin to draw up plans to offer lottery gaming or if the state will remain one of the only few to not offer such gambling games. Even Alabama has considered lottery gaming which would be a big competitor to Mississippi if the state legislators decide to move forward with gaming options.