Commission to study lottery ramifications

Philip Gunn (Mississippi House of Representatives website)

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – House Speaker Philip Gunn is forming a committee to study background, social, operation and economic issues related to a state lottery.

In a statement Wednesday, Gunn says he wants to study the ramifications of the lottery and continues to oppose it. “I do not believe a lottery is based on sound economic policy, and it violates a number of conservative, Republican principles,” says Gunn via a press release.

“It is sort of an anti-lottery committee. You all get together and tell us why a lottery won’t work and I’m the Speaker and I want you to do that. I appreciate the speaker’s position on this and we’re continuing to look at the numbers,” says Republican Governor Phil Bryant. He has asked state lawmakers to consider a lottery. According to Bryant, a state economist projects a lottery could bring in millions for the state. “[He]said it could raise anywhere between $85- $100 million dollars a year,” says Bryant.

However, there are others on the same side of the aisle that are skeptical.

“I’m very skeptical that a lottery will bring in that kind of resources that some people say. And I also believe there are some other individuals that would spend money at the lottery that then would not spend money in other areas of our economy,” says Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.

The lottery study commission is made up of five lawmakers, three Republicans, and two Democrats. PEER Director James Barber and Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs will also serve; assistance from the attorney general’s office and gaming commission will be available.

It’s possible the governor could get support from Democrats on the lottery issue.

“Bringing a lottery to Mississippi we would join many other southern states, and they have not gone to hell in a hand basket because of doing so. As a matter of fact their state coffers have benefited greatly through the added income,” says District 70, Democrat Representative Kathy Sykes

“This is again an issue we’re discussing as a long way from becoming a reality but we are in some challenging times, and we are looking at some other opportunities for revenue,” adds Bryant.

Mayor Flaggs says he remains neutral when it comes to the issue of bringing in a lottery to the state. He says he looks forward to helping find the facts.

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