Mississippians no longer have to drive out of state to try their luck with the lottery. MPB's Kobee Vance reports on why this might be a jackpot for roads and bridges and education.
It was an exciting scene at a convenience store in south Jackson as the first lottery tickets were sold in Mississippi. Roughly 1,200 locations are now selling scratch-off lottery tickets. State Representative Alyce Clarke purchased the ceremonial first ticket at an event Monday morning. She says it took nearly 20 years to pass this legislation, and with so many roads and bridges in need of repair, it was a good time to act.
"We were able to put an amendment into a bill to get it done. If it had been in committee, I'm not sure it would have come out. But people were reluctant to vote against something on the floor, that everybody will see, that they didn't do what they needed for the roads and bridges."
Crystal Adams and Monique Nash were among some of the first to buy tickets Monday morning.
"I bought some scratch-off tickets, hopefully I can win something," says Adams.
"I hope it's gonna help with all these roads and bring this money in," says Nash.
Each year, the first $80 Million of proceeds will go towards repairing roads, with anything beyond that going towards education. Meg Annison is with the Mississippi Lottery Corporation. She says the turnout for ticket purchases has been great, and they will be expanding ticket options in the coming weeks.
"We are launching with four scratch-offs. In two to three weeks we'll introduce 4 more scratch-offs, and we'll keep on that trend for a while. And then January 30th, we will introduce Powerball Mega Millions, and those are the big multistate jackpots that a lot of people cross state lines to play."
The Mississippi Lottery Corporation says that in the first two hours of sales the state raised almost $300,000 for roads and bridges.