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Mississippi lottery revenue dips in March amid pandemic

JACKSON (AP) — State revenue from the Mississippi Lottery decreased in March as people began facing restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mississippi Lottery Corporation said it deposited $9.9 million into the state treasury — the net proceeds from lottery games played during March.

Mississippi has collected more than $37.5 million from the lottery since it started operating in November.

The state collected $11.6 million from lottery games played in February, $8.4 million during January and $7.6 million in December.

Mississippi Lottery Corporation president Tom Shaheen said in a news release Friday that he expects lottery ticket sales will keep declining during the pandemic.

“May and June transfers may also decline, as a result,” Shaheen said. He said the corporation has suspended its TV and radio advertising indefinitely.

Mississippi legislators voted in 2018 to create the games of chance as a way to generate money for infrastructure. Mississippi was one of six states without a lottery, but people from the state were driving to Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee to buy tickets.

Hiring staff, vetting retailers and starting games in Mississippi took more than a year.

For the first 10 years, the first $80 million a year from Mississippi lottery revenue will go to infrastructure needs. After the $80 million benchmark is hit, the rest goes to education. After the 10-year period is over, the first $80 million will go to the state’s general fund with the rest continuing to go toward education.