Why not a state lottery?

Published 7:50 pm Saturday, March 10, 2018

The possibility of a state lottery remains alive – for now.

Rep. Alyce Clarke on Thursday amended Senate Bill 2976, the budget for the state Gaming Commission, to say the agency wouldn’t get any money in the budget year starting July 1 until Mississippi enacts a lottery to benefit schools, roads and cities.

The Gaming Commission regulates casinos and charitable gambling in the state.

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Clarke, a Jackson Democrat, said the move is meant to send a message to Republican leaders that most lawmakers support a lottery. GOP leaders have been lukewarm at best to a lottery, saying they have concerns over promoting gambling and how the game might affect other tax collections.

Despite strong support for a state lottery from Gov. Phil Bryant, fellow Republican leaders in the House and Senate have not gotten on board with the idea. Twice in 2016, amended House lottery bills amounted to nothing.

That’s expected to be the case again during this session.

Bills to create a lottery have continued to die in both chambers House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves lead.

The Mississippi Legislature has wrangled over and over again to try and find funds to support much needed infrastructure upgrades, as well as education without raising taxes. It’s obvious by the number of vehicles crossing state lines to “play the lottery” tax dollars are escaping Mississippi.