Lottery study committee to get back to work

JACKSON – The lottery study committee formed by House Speaker Philip Gunn will hold its second public hearing – the first since May – on Sept. 5.

The study committee is tasked with providing information for the 2018 legislative session that begins in January.

According to a news release from Gunn’s office, the Sept. 5 meeting at the state Capitol will be an overview of the lottery in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Wyoming and Nebraska.

After the May meeting, members of the study committee visited the neighboring states of Arkansas and Louisiana to learn more about their lottery operations.

Rep. Nick Bain, D-Corinth, a member of the committee, said members did not visit the other states that will be discussed at the Sept. 5 meeting.

Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery. Many people contend that the state is losing a significant amount of money because of Mississippians traveling to neighboring states – Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana – to purchase lottery tickets.

During the past two years there has been growing momentum for Mississippi to enact a lottery. Gov. Phil Bryant, who once opposed the lottery, has “evolved” on the issue and has voiced support for a lottery – perhaps to help pay for transportation needs.

In the 2016 session, the House approved amendments on bills on two separate occasions to enact a lottery. Those proposals died later in the process.

The study committee is led by House Gaming Committee Chairman Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach. The study committee includes two Northeast Mississippians, Bain and Rep. Mac Huddleston, R-Pontotoc.

Members of the study committee say their task is not to make a recommendation for the 2018 session on whether the state should adopt a lottery, but to provide information to their colleagues on the issue.

Earlier this year Bennett said the work of the study committee is important because “there is a lot more to it than people think. You don’t just jump out there…and 12 months later have a lottery.

“We are not looking for any particular outcome. We will be as objective as possible.”