After this week’s surprising vote in Mississippi’s House of Representatives, the state is finally getting its lottery. Governor Phil Bryant, who has publicly declared his strong support for the lottery legislation, is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks.
With legislature finally approving lottery in Mississippi, five states in the country remain without the popular game of chance, namely Nevada, Alabama, Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. On Monday, the Senate voted in favor of a bill that would create a state lottery, but in a surprising move, representatives rejected the proposal just a few hours later. This happened during the special legislative session that started last week and unless votes changed, the concept of a lottery would once again remain for the next session.
The second shot for the final passage of the bill, however, was successful. After serious lobbying, backroom discussions and no actual debate on the floor, the House finally approved the bill with a 58-54 vote. It took only 8 votes, only 8 representatives who changed their opinions and gave the bill the green light. According to opinions shared after Monday’s negative vote, most of these representatives had initially rejected the lottery proposal as they wanted more money from the games to be allocated to education.
Lottery supporters have estimated that the state would receive around $40 million in revenues after the lottery’s first year of operation. Each consecutive year, between $80 million and $100 million are expected to go into state coffers. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has said multiple times that the state was losing millions in revenue from the lottery operations in neighboring Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. On Tuesday, he wrote on Twitter that it was a historic day for Mississippi.
Launch Day May Be Delayed
Although the two chambers of the Legislature passed the bill, it cannot become a law before being signed by the Governor. Since Gov. Bryant is one of the project’s biggest proponents and has been lobbying lawmakers for more than a year, he will certainly give his signature. This will probably happen within the first week of September.
However, the state may not have an actual lottery operation for another year or two. According to Sen. Philip Moran, the first lottery tickets would be sold after the 5-member lottery board and its director get appointed. After board members hire a director, they will need to hire a private company to manage the lottery operation. This is a complex process that may take a long time, as there will be different technological requirements firms will need to meet.
People will be able to buy tickets for different lotteries from multiple sales outlets across Mississippi, including tickets for Powerball, Gov. Bryant explained. The state will take in millions of dollars in tax revenue and most of the money will be spent on infrastructure and educational projects. Many lawmakers have already mentioned that the revenues from the lottery would be used for repairing bridges and highways.