/Lottery exceeding expectations in Mississippi, thus far

Lottery exceeding expectations in Mississippi, thus far

At a recent legislative hearing, Thomas Shaheen, president and CEO of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation, stated that the lottery would generate $81 millions in revenue during its first fiscal year. Shaheen recently stated that “we are very happy with these early results.” “Retailer support and player support have been amazing in our collective efforts for raising money for roads and bridges in Mississippi,” Shaheen said. The Legislature approved the lottery in an August 2018 special session. The first $80 million of revenue from the games was earmarked to Mississippi’s road and bridge projects. Any revenue exceeding $80 million will go to education. At the time, there was some doubt about how much revenue a Mississippi lottery would generate. Mississippi was the last state to approve a lottery. The remaining states without a lottery include Alabama, Nevada, Utah, Nevada, and Hawaii. Shaheen stated to legislators that the sales of lottery tickets are far beyond expectations. The lottery was launched on Nov. 25, with four scratch-offs. There are now 16 scratch-off lottery games. January 30th marked the beginning of Mega Millions and Powerball – national lottery games. Mississippi is sixth in the country per capita for scratch-off sales, with an average of $10 million in weekly sales. Nearly 1,550 sellers sell lottery tickets in Mississippi. Shaheen answered a question from legislators and said that although the state’s lottery laws don’t prohibit liquor stores selling lottery tickets, they do restrict their participation in the lottery. The Lottery Corp. was created to manage the lottery and return 58 percent to customers as winnings. Shaheen stated that this is lower than the national average, and lower than the winnings returned by the states surrounding. As much as 65 percent of sales are returned as winnings in the contiguous states. Officials stated that the goal is to increase the winnings percentage as the Mississippi lottery matures. The state law caps administrative costs at 15% of total revenue. This limit is not applicable in the initial stages of setting up a lottery, as the Lottery Corporation needed to borrow money to get started. The start-up costs were not covered by the state. Shaheen stated that administrative costs are currently about 18% of sales. Despite opposition from many religious groups, Mississippi has quickly accepted the lottery. The 2016 session saw the resignation of then-Gov. Phil Bryant opposed the lottery during the 2016 session. However, during the 2016 Neshoba County Fair political talks, Jim Hood (the eventual Democratic nominee to be governor in 2019) praised the lottery as a way to solve some of the state’s revenue problems. Bryant, however, supported the lottery in his 2017 State of the State speech. He called a special session in August 2018 to pass a lottery and other measures that would help fund the state’s crumbling infrastructure. Many believe that those measures don’t produce enough money to fix the state’s road and bridge problems, which have been estimated at $400million annually. The special session took the lottery off the table, as Hood’s 2019 unsuccessful bid for governor. Although state leaders saw the lottery as a way to generate revenue without increasing taxes, others claim that it can lead to a siphoning of disposable income from other things. According to a 2017 state research center study, lotteries are considered regressive by those who play them. This means that lower income people spend more of their income on lottery purchases than do higher income individuals. Surveys have shown that lottery players in lower income brackets spend less per year on lottery purchases than those in higher income brackets.