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Lottery Gaining Momentum Among Legislators

Lottery Gaining Momentum Among Legislators
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Associated Press

Mississippians may not have to travel to neighboring states to play the lottery much longer. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports support for a lottery in the Magnolia State is gaining momentum in the legislature.

House Democrat Alyce Clarke of Jackson has introduced a lottery bill every year since 2004. She wants to use the money people are spending on the lottery in surrounding states to fund education in Mississippi.

"I hoping that my colleagues will ask their constituents what they want them to do and if they hear the same thing I've been hearing, this will be the year," said Clarke.

House Republican John Read of Gautier wants a lottery too.

"Oh I've been for a lottery ever since day one. We could never get it to the floor. If there's a bill dropped this year, I think it would have a good chance of passing," said Read.

More than $415 million in corporate tax cuts and a tight state budget make the option more appealing to lawmakers. Republican Senator Philip Moran of Kiln, says Arkansas collected $84 million from its lottery last year. He's introducing a bill to bring existing lotteries to Mississippi.

"Implementing the Powerball and the Megaball you piggy-back off of something that's already there. The tickets sales from that will come back to the state without having all of the huge administrative costs," said Moran.

Moran wants the revenue to fund education and infrastructure. He's confident the measure will pass. Democratic Senator David Jordan of Greenwood says the state needs the money.

"If it get through the mud of the committee process and hit the floor of the senate I'll vote for it," said Jordan.

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn, both Republicans, are opposed to a lottery. Gunn created a committee to study the issue. A report will be made public. A date for its release hasn't been set.