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Lawmakers discuss Mississippi lottery

(WTOK)
Published: Jan. 8, 2018 at 2:40 PM CST
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Gov. Phil Bryant discussed a lottery for Mississippi during last year’s State of the State Address, and may do so again Tuesday night.

“He brought it up last year, and it was a surprise, so I would not be surprised if he brought it up again tomorrow night at the State of the State Address," says Rep. Greg Snowden, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Mississippi House of Representatives. "And as far as how important, it remains to be seen. I mean, certainly, our agenda is out of the box so to speak.”

Those in favor of having a lottery believe that it will have a positive economic impact on the state, increasing revenues.

“I think the majority of the people in the state of Mississippi have spoken. They want a lottery, and a lot of our monies go out of state because people are going to Louisiana, Tennessee, to buy lottery tickets,” says Rep. Charles L. Young, Jr., the representative for House District 82.

But some representatives say they believe that the revenue gained will not be nearly enough to solve any issues the state has to deal with in 2018.

“Some people want to see it spent for roads and bridges, some people would like to see it go into education of some sort, or mental health, or any number of good things you can spend the money on. My big point is that okay, but you’re still not talking about that big of a pie. Probably 100 million dollars at most, you start splitting that up too many ways, you’re not going to have too much of an impact anywhere,” Rep. Snowden explains.

Rep. Snowden told us that the Senate has introduced a bill to create a lottery, and if it were to make it to the House, it could pass. Another option would be to put it to a public vote.

“I think we the people, I think, would be better served if the lottery could be an issue that was on the ballot and let the citizens of the state of Mississippi decide,” says Rep. Young.