Lottery study committee looking to LA and AR as examples

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – House Speaker Philip Gunn’s Lottery Study Committee met Thursday to dig deeper into the pros and cons of a state lottery.

BENNETT – “I’m for a lottery but that does not mean that I don’t want to go out and find the facts,” says Representative Richard Bennett. He headed Thursday’s meeting and is the chair of the Gaming Commission. Bennett added that his stance could change depending on the facts and figures found in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery. Just last year, according to a PEER Committee staff report, Louisiana brought in $507 million in total sales proceeds from its lottery. Arkansas generated $445.6 million and Tennessee brought in $1.6 billion.

“We are going to show or get the information from the other states where they’re putting their money. And if for instance if it was put in education was general fund money shifted away from education, we’re going to look at those and see,” says Bennett.

However, for study committee member Nick Bain, he doesn’t support the lottery, and it’s more than just about money.

“It is on religious beliefs. I am a member of a Baptist church, and it’s something I have, a major tenant of my faith. I believe it does violate that. With that said I am interested to see where we are headed,” says Bain. The Democrat from Alcorn County isn’t the only one whose beliefs play a big role in the lottery debate. Speaker Gunn says he believes the lottery is against his Republican principles.

While Mississippi is already home to a host of casinos, Bain says he’s looking forward to the fact finding and has plenty of questions as the committee will travel to Arkansas and Louisiana.

“I would not support a vote for those. But casinos, they employ people they brought in jobs. They have a certain have a certain infrastructure that has helped the state. We don’t know that yet about the lottery.What will happen? What will be the effect of that,” says Bain.

The committee is set to meet at least three more times. It’s meant to find the facts, be objective and not decide whether or not the state should create a lottery.

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