Editorials

Lottery is a discussion worth having

A player fills out his lottery ticket as people come out to buy Powerball lottery tickets at Colony Exxon in North Raleigh as the jackpot grows to $1.5 billion on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.
A player fills out his lottery ticket as people come out to buy Powerball lottery tickets at Colony Exxon in North Raleigh as the jackpot grows to $1.5 billion on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. cseward@newsobserver.com

Gov. Phil Bryant says he’s willing to discuss a state lottery.

We think it is a discussion worth having.

You’ve seen the pictures and videos this news organization publishes. Mississippians pour across the state line to buy lottery tickets every time a Powerball jackpot grows to life-altering levels.

Why let that revenue go to Louisiana or Florida?

As Sun Herald staff writer Mary Perez reported this month, Mississippi voters approved a state lottery in 1992, but the Legislature never followed up and has voted down bills introduced to legalize the lottery.

In the last session, in fact, Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, sponsored a bill that would allow Powerball tickets to be sold at the state’s casinos and Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, sponsored a bill that would funnel lottery proceeds into education, roads and bridges in the state.

Louisiana directed $185 million last year from the lottery into its state coffers, and it’s a safe bet a portion of that money came from Mississippi residents. We need to keep that money here.

Gambling is a tricky subject in the state Legislature, because so many upstate legislators have moral or religious objections.

But Father Richard McGowan, a Jesuit priest and associate professor at Carroll School of Management at Boston College who frequently writes about lotteries and casinos, told our reporter he sees buying a ticket as a “morally neutral act.” McGowan also doesn’t see a lottery hurting state casinos.

So often, what you are buying with a lottery ticket is the dream of walking away with suitcases of cash, because the possibility of winning is so remote — 1 in 292 million for the Powerball jackpot.

We think it is OK for Mississippi residents to enjoy the dream, and we urge Gov. Bryant to do what he can to make the lottery a reality in the Magnolia State.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

  Comments