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Mississippi Lottery could begin funding education by 2021

Sep 29, 2020, 2:01 pm

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Mississippi Lottery

Lottery posts promising results after less than one year in operation

By Kate Northrop

The Mississippi Lottery's first year in operation has been an eventful one, from selling its first-ever lottery ticket in November 2019 to battling sales dips caused by COVID-19 just four months later. Yet, it's currently traveling down the road to success, having transferred $70.7 million to the state treasury in less than one year in operation.

This could very well mean that the Lottery is set up to begin funding education by 2021.

After expenses and prize payouts, the first $80 million in proceeds is allocated to the State Highway Fund that builds and maintains roadways and bridges. Proceeds that go beyond $80 million are sent to the Education Enhancement Fund for classroom supplies, upkeep of facilities, and transportation. Since the Lottery is averaging lottery ticket sales of $10 million or more a week, it is very likely that it will exceed the $80 million threshold to contribute to education in the coming fiscal year.

"The lottery has been way more successful than we anticipated," Senator Joel Carter, R-Gulfport, said.

Since the 2020 fiscal year ended on July 1, all $70.7 million of the Lottery's proceeds funded roads and bridges. Considering the statewide shutdown due to COVID-19 that chopped sales by 10% to 13% toward the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., procuring much-needed funds for education looks even more feasible.

At the start of the new fiscal year in July, the Lottery already transferred $10.1 million in net proceeds to the state and tacked on another $8.3 million in August.

"This is a great way to start the new fiscal year," Tom Shaheen, President of the Mississippi Lottery said. "In the coming months, we look forward to raising more revenue for Mississippi's roads, bridges, and education."

Some of the net proceeds will help repay the loan taken to organize and establish the Mississippi Lottery, but the pace at which the Lottery is generating sales revenue means that it could potentially surpass the $80 million infrastructure limit around March. The rest of the dollars earned through June would then go toward the state's education fund.

The Lottery releases new scratch-off lottery games on the first Tuesday of each month. Currently, there are 43 active scratch-off games in their portfolio, with the state's first daily draw game Cash 3 recently added on Sept. 1.

As the Lottery teases a daily-4 number game and daily-5 number game in the future, players can expect more options for playing the lottery. It's a win-win for players and education.

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