House changes course, approves lottery

By Aaron Rice
August 28, 2018

The House of Representatives changed course on Tuesday, voting in favor of a state lottery. They did this less than 24 hours after rejecting the lottery conference report. Five Republicans and three Democrats switched from a "No" vote to a "Yes" vote. Two Democrats and one Republicans switched from a "Yes" vote to a "No" vote.

With approval from the House, the lottery is on its way to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.

The Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act

In addition to creating a state lottery, lawmakers also created the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act.

This new law provides more than $1 billion in infrastructure funding over the next five years. The legislation is the result of two years of negotiation and compromise between the House and Senate, seeking to find a fiscally responsible way to provide sustainable and reliable roads funding.

Here are the details on the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act:

  • Provides $200 million annually for roads and bridges. Funding will reach $1.1 billion over five years. This money will come from $300 million in new bonds/debt, internet sales tax revenue from the 7 percent online sales tax, a new annual tax ($75 to $150 annually) on hybrid and electric vehicles, and sports betting revenue.
  • Of note, raising the gas tax was never part of this package.

Problems with initial bill

The initial lottery bill also left much to be desired, exempting the new lottery board from state public records and open meetings laws. The House addressed this problem by adding transparency language. A House amendment to leave the door open to video gaming also slowed the bill down. This change was opposed by casino operators as well as the faith community, which had thus far voiced muted opposition to the lottery.

A decades-old debate, Mississippi will become the 45th state to enact a lottery. A lottery board, appointed by the governor, will also serve as the board of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation. It would act as a private corporation domiciled in Mississippi. The lottery is expected to generate about $80 million in annual revenue, with 35 percent of total proceeds going to the state. The remaining 65 percent will go toward administrative costs/paying vendors and prize payouts.


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