Bryant Urges Mississippi Lottery

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (l.) wants legislators to approve a state lottery that could raise $50-$60 million in annual tax revenue. A lottery bill died in the House and another, with a lottery amendment, failed in the Senate. But Bryant said Senators could add a lottery to an existing bill.

In a race to beat the April 2 end of the legislative session, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is urging state legislators to approve a state lottery that could raise tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue. “When you’re looking at some of the challenges that we’re having and you see a revenue bill that would generate somewhere between 50 and 60 million dollars–just an estimate– I think that’s something that needs to be taken seriously by the members of both the House and the Senate,” Bryant said. In his State of the State speech in January, Bryant mentioned the revenue lost by the state when Mississippi residents driving to Arkansas to buy lottery tickets.

Proposals for a state lottery died in the House earlier this month. However, the issue could be revived in the Senate in the next few weeks. House Bill 967, awaiting consideration by the Senate, would regulate and set a tax on daily fantasy sports games betting. When the bill still was in the House, a lottery amendment was added to it, but the proposal failed when it came up for a vote. Bryant said senators could add a lottery to an existing bill. Then, when it would return to the House, some votes would have to be changed.

Bryant said, “When I was lieutenant governor and president of the Senate, if I had a majority of my members who wanted to vote, I thought it was incumbent upon me to let them have that opportunity to exercise that right. It may not be just popular with some members, but I think the majority wants to have an opportunity to vote on a state lottery, and we’d certainly look at that with great interest.”

Bryant, a Republican, recently made his third round of spending cuts since the budget year started July 1.