In Mississippi, officials are reportedly set to follow a call from Republican governor Phil Bryant and study the possibility of reinvigorating falling tax revenues by establishing a state lottery.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service, Mississippi is one of only six American states alongside Alabama, Utah, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii that does not offer some form of a state lottery but Philip Gunn, the Republican leader of the Mississippi House Of Representatives, has now revealed that he intends to appoint a committee to study the pros and cons of creating just such an enterprise.
“I am open to looking at it,” Gunn, who is a leader in his local Baptist church and has long opposed the expansion of gambling in Mississippi, told the Associated Press. “I do not think it’s going to be the golden egg that everybody thinks that it is”
Bryant reportedly began 2016 by asking lawmakers to consider establishing a lottery as a way to offset declining state tax collections and dissuade Mississippi residents from driving to the nearby states of Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana in order to purchase tickets. But, the issue failed to gain much traction during the initial three-month legislative session in Jackson while the Republican Lieutenant Governor Of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, even allegedly questioned whether a lottery would generate new revenues or simply shift the way people spend money.
However, 54-year-old Gunn has now reportedly declared that he will ask Richard Bennett, Chairman for the Mississippi House Of Representatives’ Gaming Committee, to initiate a study to determine the costs of establishing a lottery along with how much the state could reasonably expect to collect from ticket sales and whether such an enterprise would affect sales tax revenues.
“If a person takes $10 and goes and buys lottery tickets versus buying milk and bread; well, that’s 70 cents of sales tax we have lost on that $10,” Gunn told the Associated Press. “So, it is not just a quick [and] clean collection of dollars. There are costs that have to be backed out.”