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Special session: lottery bill passes through Senate

Photo by News Mississippi

Update: 

By a final vote of 30-20, the “Mississippi Lottery Act” has passed through the Senate and will now move over the House.

Original Story: 

A lottery bill has officially been brought to the Senate floor in the Mississippi Legislature. 

A lottery was included in the Governor’s official call for the special session, and it’s now quickly moving through the legislative process. Aptly named the “Mississippi Lottery Act”, the bill would create the ability for Mississippi to collect revenue from a state lottery. 

Among the details included in the bill, a private corporation would be established to oversee the lottery, rather than the state gaming commission. The corporation would then be made up of five members appointed by the Governor. 

During the debate on the floor, Senator Hob Bryan questioned whether or not the creation of a private corporation is the best way to handle the proposed lottery.

The creation of the lottery would assist the state as leaders attempt to identify new revenue streams for the state’s roads and bridges. 

The special session is centered around the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act, which the Governor stated could bring $1.1 billion the state over the next five years. While he said that a lottery is not his first choice, it may be the right time to bring one to Mississippi. 

“I will tell you that a state lottery is not my favorite source of revenue, but decisions have to be made. You have to weigh what you would like and what needs to be done, and we need funding for infrastructure in the state and this is a large opportunity to capture that revenue,” Bryant explained.

The Governor also stated that Mississippians spend up to $15 million a year in Louisiana on the lottery. After a press conference this morning, Governor Bryant mentioned that a lottery could bring up to $80 million when it’s fully implemented. 

The bill has passed through the committee stage and will eventually be voted on by the Senate. 

If it passes, it will move the House. Speaker of the House Philip Gunn has opposed a lottery, but he has stated that he’ll leave it up to the representatives if one comes over.

“If the Senate passes it and brings it over to us then we will deal with it then, but I am just not a fan of the lottery,” Gunn said. “I have studied it extensively. I have, I think, good policy reasons why it is bad. It is just bad public policy in my opinion, but I am just one guy with one opinion and I think I am in the minority on that. Overwhelmingly, people of the state want it and I think many of our politicians are willing to vote for it, but Philip Gunn will not vote for it because I think it is bad public policy.”

To read the full lottery bill, click here – Lottery Bill 

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