High Hopes for State Lottery Dashed

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High Hopes for State Lottery Dashed
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First Day of 2018 Legislative Session in House of Reps.
Desare Frazier

It could be another year or more before Mississippi has a lottery. Despite high hopes some lawmakers say getting the bills to the floor for a vote is a challenge.

At the start of the 2018 Mississippi legislative session, Republican Senator Philip Moran of Hancock County, was optimistic his lottery bill would pass. He said he'd polled the Senate and the majority told him they'd vote for it. But his bill along with more than ten other lottery bills in the House and Senate failed to pass out of committees for further consideration. The bills collectively would fund education, scholarships and infrastructure.

"If it doesn't happen this year, maybe next year. But I'm always hopeful. The latest polling shows about 73 percent of voters in the great State of Mississippi want a lottery," said Moran.

House Democrat Tom Reynolds of Tallahatchie County, authored a lottery bill in hopes of cashing in on the money Mississippians are spending out of state.

"They are participating in it at a very high rate. Yet we don't get money from that," said Reynolds.

Money Reynolds says Mississippi desperately needs for infrastructure and education. So, what's keeping the bills from passing out of committees? Democratic Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland, submitted a lottery bill too. He says despite growing support. There's still opposition.

"The faith-based community doesn't open its arm and jump up and down about a lottery. We are what is referred to as a Bible Belt State so as a result of that we don't have the support other states have had," said Simmons.

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn, both Republicans don't support a lottery. Reeves has said there is enough support to pass a bill if the measure reaches the Senate floor for a vote.