Not having a lottery harming Vicksburg

Published 10:46 pm Friday, August 25, 2017

“If it protects my community, I am going to be for it and if it hurts my community, I am probably going to be against it.”

That was State Senator and Vicksburg native Briggs Hopson’s position when discussing the potential for a state lottery in Mississippi at Tuesday’s meeting of the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club.

Hopson added that if the lottery does pass, he would be in favor of adding the revenue to the statewide pot instead of earmarking it for education or roads and bridges.

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After a budget session that Hopson described as “tough” that saw cuts to universities and colleges leading to rising tuitions, a lack of funding to repair roads and bridges throughout the state and cuts across the board, a state lottery may just be the answer they are looking for.

The Louisiana Lottery reported in April that lottery revenue for 2017 was $454.8 million, which resulted in transfers of $159.1 million towards Louisiana public schools.

The LA Lottery transfers 35 percent of revenue to the state government and since 1991, the lottery has transferred $3.4 billion to the state treasury according to the LA Lottery commission.

That number does not include the $25.4 million made by retailers from the lottery in Louisiana in just 2017.

This week’s record Powerball jackpot showed the impact the lottery can have on businesses. As the drawing drew near, the convenience stores across the bridge in Delta saw long lines of patrons waiting to purchase tickets.

Hopson said that one of his deciding factors on whether to vote for the lottery would be whether or not bringing one to Mississippi hurts the community he represents. Vicksburg’s immediate proximity to Louisiana creates an impact where not having the lottery might be doing the most harm to local businesses.

The flood of people crossing the bridge to purchase a ticket before Wednesday’s Powerball drawing is lost revenue for Vicksburg convenience stores. As are all the people that cross the bridge to buy scratch offs, Mega Million tickets and to play the odds for the Powerball twice a week.

Mississippi is one of six states, along with Alabama, Nevada, Utah, Alaska and Hawaii, without a lottery.

It is time for that to change.