A study committee is combing through the pros and cons experienced as other states implemented their lotteries. As MPB's Ezra Wall reports, the group's findings will be thorough, but will not include an official recommendation.
Mississippi is one of seven states without a lottery. It was prohibited by the state constitution until 1992, when voters rescinded the portion of the law that stood against it. Since that time, no legislature has enacted a state lotto. Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs was in the legislature during most of that time. He says the committee is examining the issue deliberately.
"We went to Louisiana, we went to Arkansas, and we looked at Wyoming and Nebraska," says Flaggs. "He's looking at bringing in the mental health agency, he's talking in religious communities, he's talking about bringing in the gaming community, so everybody will have some input in this."
At yesterday's meeting at the State Capitol, the 9-member study committee looked at how lotteries were implemented in five states, including Louisiana and Arkansas.
The study committee is chaired by Republican Representative Richard Bennett of Long Beach. He says after the study is concluded, one thing his committee will not do is make an official recommendation.
"We're going to have one more meeting and then we should have our final product about six weeks after that," says Bennett, "but again, there will not be a recommendation for or against the lottery. It will just be facts about the lotteries."
Of the states observed by the committee, four of them made tens of millions of dollars in 2015. Wyoming did not pull the winning ticket that year, losing half a million dollars.