It has been six months since a lottery bill was passed in Mississippi, paving the way for a lotto to be run in the Magnolia State for the first time. A five-person board has already been appointed, a company called the Mississippi Lottery Corp. has been established and the foundations are starting to be laid.
“We’re building a $100 million corporation from the ground up,” said Gerard Gibert, vice-chairman of the board of directors. The lottery still needs to name a CEO, while a law firm will be required to handle all the legal affairs and bank financing must be secured, but Gibert insists it will all come together.
‘One Chance To Get This Right’
“We’re as anxious as the people are, but we’ve got to do it right,” he said. “We only have one chance to do this right and we’re going to make sure it’s done right before we go live.”
The lottery is expected to be rolled out in a number of phases, most likely starting with a range of scratch-off games. Gibert said: “We hope to have that - some form of that - up and running by the end of the summer.”
Other games such as Powerball and Mega Millions are expected to follow the initial launch, and Gibert has reassured the public that they will soon be able to buy tickets. Lottery fans have previously had to cross state borders into places such as Louisiana and Tennessee, and one of the main reasons for introducing a lottery was to keep those dollars in Mississippi.
“The law does not specify or require any time frames, so we’re not really under any particular guidance there, but we want to get it up and running as soon as possible so we can start producing revenue,” said Gibert.
“We understand that the citizens of Mississippi are ready to start using their money to buy lottery tickets and play the games here in Mississippi.”
Everyone Is Asking
Rep. Alyce Clarke, one of the biggest supporters of a lottery in Mississippi, has also promised to keep pushing the board members to move forward as quickly as they can. She said: “I ask, ‘Why was it taking so long?’ And they said, ‘It took you almost 20 years to get it passed, why do you want us to do this overnight?’”
Clarke added: “Every time I go someplace, people ask me, ‘When are we going to start with the lottery tickets? When does the lottery start?’” The exact answer to that question remains uncertain, but it is edging closer and players in Mississippi should be able to take part in the next few months.