Mississippi Lottery Begins, Only Five Non-Lottery States Remain

The Mississippi Lottery sold its first ticket early Monday morning, bringing an end to a decades-long bitter fight between state lawmakers searching for new forms of tax revenue and powerful religious organizations opposed to expanded gambling.

Mississippi Lottery ticket scratch-off

Mississippi Lottery retailers are open for business across the Magnolia State. (Image: Rogelio Solis/AP)

The state legislature formed the Mississippi Lottery Corporation with its 2018 passage of Senate Bill 2001 – the Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law to Establish a State Lottery. Governor Phil Bryant (R) signed the legislation in August 2018.

State Rep. Clarke (D-District 69), 80-years-old who has served in the Jackson capital since 1985, has long sought to bring Mississippi a lottery.

It feels great. Finally, it becomes a reality,” Clarke said after purchasing the first lottery ticket early Monday morning.

“It just goes to show you what happens if you don’t give up. Sometimes you have to try and try and try again,” she said.

Four scratch-off games went on sale today at 1,200 convenience stores and retail locations. Mega Millions and Powerball sales won’t begin until January 30, 2020. Mississippi Lottery winners are allowed to remain anonymous.

Lottery Revenue

The Mississippi Lottery has been structured in such a way that it will benefit both state infrastructure and the education system.

The first $80 million in annual net proceeds the state receives from the lottery will be set aside for the State Highway Fund until June 30, 2028. Every dollar over $80 million each year will be earmarked for the Education Enhancement Fund.

After June 30, 2028, the first $80 million will go to the State General Fund, and remaining revenue to the education trust. Lottery spokesperson Meg Addison revealed that by 7 am Monday morning, the state had already won $300,000 from scratch-off sales.

The Mississippi Lottery’s tagline uses the popular southernism, “y’all.”

“Y’all get your winning pose ready!” the lottery’s homepage reads. One of the four current scratch-offs is “Happy Holidays, Y’all!”

Addicted to Lottery

Mississippi becomes the 45th state to legalize a lottery. Now, only five non-lottery states remain: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.

Four of those states have little to no appetite to legalize lotteries. But with Mississippi getting in on the action, discussions in neighboring Alabama are heating up.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians pitched its home state of Alabama earlier this month on a plan that would grant the Native American tribe exclusive rights to all forms of gambling other than a lottery in exchange for $1 billion. The figure consists of $725 million in license and compact fees, annual taxes, and a one-time $225 million payment for the exclusivity.

The tribe’s plan is called “Winning for Alabama.” The Poarch Indians aren’t opposed to the state legalizing a lottery, but want to make sure the greyhound racetracks aren’t permitted to incorporate video lottery terminals or slot-like historical racing machines.

In a statement, “Winning for Alabama” said of the Mississippi lottery, “Alabama could have a traditional lottery just like Mississippi. A traditional lottery and our billion-dollar plan – just think of what those extra revenues could do for Alabama!”

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