TUPELO • If all goes according to plan, Mississippians will be able to play the lottery in their home state for the first time by the end of the year.
By Dec. 1, scratch-off games are expected to be available, and sales of tickets for multistate games such as Powerball and Mega Millions could begin in the second quarter of next year.
“If you’re a fan of the lottery, the bad news is we’re the 45th state to enact one; the good news is we’ve got 44 other states from which to draw as we build up our lottery corporation,” said Mississippi Lottery Corp. board member and vice chairman Gerard Gibert, who spoke to the Tupelo Kiwanis Club on Friday. “The systems and processes are much more mature now relative to where they were when other states started. I think we have a leg up in that respect from a startup perspective.
“We’re not reinventing anything here; this is what 44 states are already doing.”
The only other states without a lottery are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah.
Gibert said he expects the lottery to pull in quite a few buyers from Alabama. And the state lottery should slow the “leakage” of Mississippians buying from neighboring states to the tune of an estimate $60 million a year.
“We expect to retain that and keep that in Mississippi.”
The MLC has started looking for advertising and marketing companies to help build the brand, make advertisements and buy advertising space, with the deadline for companies to submit proposals set for Aug. 22.
MLC is in effect building a $400 million corporation, Gibert said.
The Mississippi Lottery Corp. is not affiliated with the Mississippi Gaming Commission. While the Gaming Commission is a public entity that regulates the state’s gaming industry, the MLC is essentially a sales organization, Gibert said.
“We’re responsible for generating revenue for the state, and the corporation’s board is responsible for governing the organization much like a private-sector board governs a private-sector entity,” he said. “It receives no public funding, the board members aren’t compensated, and the employees don’t receive any state benefits.”
Applications are now being accepted online at mslotteryhome.com for retailers interested in selling lottery tickets.
“Retailers mail it back to us, and they have to pass background check, they have to be financially stable and submit a letter of credit or bond for $8,000,” Gibert said.
The lottery corporation hopes to have 1,500 retailers, starting with 500 selling the scratch-off tickets by April 1.
“But the first quarter of 2020 we expect to have the other online games running, and we have been approved for the multi-state lottery and hope to have that on line by the second-quarter,” Gibert said.
The first $80 million of lottery proceeds will go toward the state highway fund to help with the sate’s infrastructure, with the remaining going to the the education enhancement fund. That deal is in place for the first 10 years of the lottery. After that, the first $80 million will go to the general fund.
Gibert also said MLC pays no income tax, and sales of lottery tickets are not subject to state sales tax.
Lottery redemptions of $600 or less can be made at a retailer; anything higher can be made at redemption centers only. Those locations have not yet been selected.