State Politics

Tired of driving to Slidell for Powerball tickets? Keep an eye on this bill

These are the tickets that lure countless Mississippians, and their money, to other states each year.
These are the tickets that lure countless Mississippians, and their money, to other states each year. AP file

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.

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.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

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