Mississippi Lottery Outperforms Expectations

Sunday February 16th 2020

The Mississippi Lottery is outpacing revenue goals, generating around $16 million for state roads and bridges since it launched on November 25 last year.

On January 17, the Lottery made its first transfer of $7,621,232.47 to the Lottery Proceeds Fund in the State Treasury. 

"We are very pleased with these early results," said Thomas Shaheen, president of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation (MLC). "Retailer and player support have been fantastic for our collective efforts to raise money for roads, bridges and education needs for the state of Mississippi."

Shaheen recently told a legislative hearing that estimates point to the lottery creating $81 million in revenue in its first full fiscal year.

The first $80 million is earmarked for repairs to the state's aging roads and bridges. Once that threshold is met, funds above $80 million will go to education.

The state averages approximately $10 million in weekly sales, putting it sixth in the country in per capita spending on scratch-off tickets.

There was skepticism when the lottery launched about how much money it could generate, since Mississippi was surrounded by states that already offered lotteries. However, residents have welcomed the chance to keep the money from ticket sales in-state and avoid long drives across borders.

The Lottery Corporation, which runs the lottery, pays out 58 percent of the money raised by ticket sales back to players as winnings. However, that's less than the national average, Shaheen said, and neighboring states are paying back as much as 65 percent of proceeds as prizes.

As the Lottery grows, its goal is to boost the percentage of revenue returned to players as prizes, according to officials.

The Lottery Corporation took out a loan to fund its start-up costs, rather than receiving state funding. Therefore it is currently exempted from Mississippi law limiting administrative costs to 15 percent of gross revenue. Right now, administrative costs are about 18 percent of revenue, Shaheen said.

Legislators asked Shaheen whether liquor stores are able to sell lottery tickets. The lottery laws do not preclude it, but state laws regulating liquor stores do not allow them to become lottery retailers.

There are nearly 1,550 authorized lottery retailers across Mississippi, with more retailer applications waiting to be processed. When an application is approved, staff undergo training, including learning how to operate the lottery terminals.

Mississippi launched Powerball and Mega Millions on January 30, and sales topped half a million dollars on the first day. Residents were excited to try the new games, with lines forming at retailers before sunrise.

If you have questions about playing the multi-state games, get answers on the Powerball and Mega Millions FAQ page.

The Magnolia State continues to launch new scratch-off games on the first Tuesday of every month. 16 instant win games are now available to play.

Last summer, Mississippi announced that it expected to offer more draw games by February 10, 2020, including Lotto America, Cash 4 Life, and a three-digit, four-digit, and five-digit game. These games have not yet launched, but the Mississippi Lottery page will be updated as soon as more information is released.

Mississippi was one of the last states in the country to get its own lottery. The handful of remaining states without a lottery are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.

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