A Coast lawmaker said he’ll file the first lottery bill of the session Thursday, and he says a straw poll indicates it should sail through the state Senate.
State Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, said a straw poll he conducted Wednesday showed at least 38 senators would vote for the bill. The question is, will it get to the floor for a vote.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told the Clarion Ledger he expected a debate but didn’t say if that debate would occur in a committee or on the Senate floor.
“I will tell you that if it got to the floor of the Mississippi Senate, it would pass, and I believe if it got to the floor of the Mississippi House it would pass — in fact the House has passed three or four different versions in the past,” he said.
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Moran said the main objective would be to stop the flow of revenue to Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee, which have lotteries.
Mega-jackpots this week are luring South Mississippians to Slidell and beyond in search of Powerball and MegaMillions tickets. The Powerball jackpot was $550 million and climbing Wednesday morning. Mega Millions was $418 million.
“I think the climate is right,” said Moran of the lottery bill’s chances. “They’ll be lots of folks signing on as co-sponsors once the bill drops.”
He said he polled every senator and 38 said they would vote for the bill, 4 were undecided and 10 said they would vote no.
The casino industry, one of the major drivers of the Coast economy, would not oppose a lottery as long as it was conducted on paper.
Larry Gregory, director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association, said it opposes a video lottery on machines similar to video poker in bars and convenience stores.