BENTON COUNTY • Lottery sales are off to a good start in Mississippi but the tickets aren't available in Benton County, yet.
Roughly 1,200 convenience stores and other sites across the state began selling tickets on Monday, Nov. 25.
According to Meg Annison, Communications Director of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation, As of Tuesday, Dec. 3, Benton County is one of only two counties in the state where there is currently not an approved lottery retailer. The other county is Issaquena.
Several area businesses told the Advocate that they have filed the paperwork for the lottery and are awaiting approval. Those businesses include Breedlove’s Quick Stop in Lamar, Ashland Hardware, Ashland Quick Stop, and Shoup’s Marathon in Ashland.
Annison said the process of becoming a retailer takes about 30 days from start to finish. A potential retailer must complete the application, pay an $80 application fee, go through a background check and credit check and show good standing with the Department of Revenue. Once that is completed, they will go through retailer training and have equipment installed.
Mississippi Lottery is selling only scratch-off tickets now, but on Jan. 30, lottery ticket sellers will be able to buy Powerball and Mega Millions multi-state tickets. For now, customers will have four scratch-off tickets from which to choose: A $5, two $2 options and a $1 option.
Retailers selling the tickets get six percent of sales.
For decades, Mississippi was one of only six states without a lottery. People in Benton County often drove across the state line to Tennessee to buy tickets.
In 2018, lawmakers authorized a lottery as a way to finance road maintenance and infrastructure needs. At the time, the state had been forced to close hundreds of unsafe bridges. For the first 10 years, the first $80 million a year from lottery revenue will go to infrastructure needs. After the $80 million benchmark is hit, the rest goes to education. After the 10-year period is over, the first $80 million will go to the state’s general fund, with the remainder continuing to go toward education.
Dennis Seid contributed to this article.