The Mississippi House Lottery Study Working Group is analyzing the pros and cons of creating a lottery in the state. MPB's Mark Rigsby was at the State Capitol Wednesday when the group met for the first time.
The leader of the 9-person state lottery study committee, Republican Representative Richard Bennett, of Long Beach, is in favor of the lottery. He says they will seek to find the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a lottery in Mississippi.
"I think it's very important that this be objective. All we are looking for are the facts. We're not going to give a recommendation at the end of this. It's just going to the facts on how it would impact the state, and what we need to know to implement a lottery."
The group will research the economic benefits, as well as the social and behavioral impacts of a state lottery. Mississippi is one of only six states that do not have one. The state banned lotteries in the constitution of 1890, but it was overturned by voters in 1992. 17 states that have lotteries use the funds generated for education. Democratic Representative Nick Bain, of Corinth, says he's always voted against the lottery, but the study committee is necessary.
"We have a large sample size with a number of states that have done this all over the country. If we're going to talk about it, there's no sense in us not studying it, not looking at what other states have done."
The group says he combined net proceeds from lotteries in Arkansas and Louisiana totaled $263 million last year. Some members of the group plan to visit those state to better understand how a lottery would work in Mississippi. Bennett says he hopes the group will present its findings in time for the 2018 legislative session.