Legal in 2nd neighbor state; loss of Miss. money stirs debate
Randy Kyle spent $100 in two days on Tennessee lottery tickets. Kyle, 42, of Walls in DeSoto County scratched off tickets during his lunch break Wednesday. He sat in his pickup parked at the Mapco Express convenience store near the Mississippi-Tennessee line.
Kyle and several other Mississippians made up about a third of the store's lottery customers that afternoon.
Kyle, a construction contractor, said he expects to play regularly while working in Tennessee.
"That's a bad thing for me," said Kyle, who probably will buy tickets every time he stops in a convenience store.
He won two free tickets and at least $20 since he started playing.
Kyle is among several Mississippians who have flocked across the state line to buy lottery tickets since Tuesday, the first day of the Tennessee lottery. Almost everyone who has played has reported winning a free ticket or at least a couple of dollars.
The Tennessee lottery brought in almost $11 million on its first day, said spokeswoman Kym Gerlock. Tennessee turned to the lottery to pay for education after 20 years of debating the issue. The law, which voters approved overwhelmingly, calls for revenue from the games to pay for college scholarships.
Most Mississippians interviewed said they would buy tickets at home if the Magnolia State had a lottery. "I'd rather help my schools than the ones in Tennessee," said Mickey Allen, 48 of Michigan City in Benton County.
Mississippi legislative leaders, however, say there's no chance they would approve launching a Magnolia State lottery this year, even though thousands of residents cross state lines to play games in Louisiana and now Tennessee.
House Speaker Billy McCoy and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck say they are opposed to a lottery in Mississippi. "And I don't see the Legislature supporting it," Tuck said.
Gov. Haley Barbour doesn't support a state lottery because it wouldn't create jobs, said spokesman Pete Smith. A lottery also would tax the poor, Smith said, without elaborating.
"Like any form of gambling, a lottery is a cynical, craven way to part poor people from their money," said William Perkins of the Mississippi Baptist Convention."There is ample evidence that lotteries take much more money from poor people than wealthy people. If the state budget is in a bad way, then let's be honest and talk about taxes."
Still, Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, said she's going to plug her bill that's designed to use a percentage of lottery proceeds to pump up education budgets. She introduced it Tuesday.
Lottery bills have been unsuccessful in the Mississippi Legislature since the late 1980s. The state House historically has favored lotteries, while the bills have died in the Senate. A survey of state senators by The Clarion-Ledger last week showed strong resistance to a lottery.
In 1990, the last year for a major push for legislative approval for a lottery, the bill passed in the House but died in the Senate by one vote. Then-Gov. Ray Mabus had proposed a lottery to help pay for $500 million in education reforms.
Mississippi's 1890 Constitution bans lotteries. The lottery, as a revenue bill, would require three-fifths majorities in the House and Senate, in order to pass.
Clarke said she's getting calls of encouragement from lottery supporters.
But without support from Barbour, Tuck and McCoy, the issue is dead, Perkins said. Such opposition means the Baptist Convention, which has more than 2,000 member churches, won't have to mount a large lobbying effort opposing a state lottery, he said. Besides lotteries, the Baptist Convention also opposes casino gambling, Perkins said.
Mississippi's casinos brought in $2.7 billion in 2003, according to the state Gaming Commission. About 12 percent, or $320 million, went to the state and local governments.
The Gaming Commission doesn't think Tennessee's lottery will affect Mississippi's casino industry, said commission spokeswoman Leigh Ann Wilkins.
"Casinos are resorts. They have so many amenities, such as golf courses and hotels, in addition to gaming," she said.
There's a vast difference between going to a casino and buying a lottery ticket, Wilkins said.
Tennessee is the 39th state to operate a lottery. North Dakota is to start later this year.
Before Tuesday, Tennessee had been the only Southeastern state without any legalized gambling.
The Tennessee lottery started with four different instant-win, scratch-off games. Tickets cost $1, $2 or $5 per ticket. Daily and weekly number drawings could begin in 45 days, Gerlock said.
One of the lottery's big winners has been Daniel Young of Horn Lake. He won $7,000 playing "Lucky 7's." Young couldn't be reached Friday for comment.
Gerlock said officials don't know how much lottery money to expect from out-of-state players.
Representatives from the Louisiana lottery and South Carolina Education Lottery also said they don't know how many out-of-state players buy their tickets.
Last month, a North Carolina couple who bought a winning ticket in South Carolina took half of a $221.5 million Powerball jackpot.
The Georgia Lottery estimates 16 percent of its sales come from out-of-state players, said spokes-man J.B. Landroche.
Meanwhile, Tennessee can count Jimmy Moore of Horn Lake as one of its out-of-state lottery players. Moore, 36, said he bought three tickets after he went into a store to buy a drink. He broke even after winning $3.
"I work up (in Tennessee), so I'll be up here every day," said Moore, an electrical worker. "I'll grab a couple of tickets."
He said he'd rather spend his money in Mississippi, though.
"I'm always shopping down there," Moore said.
Jocelyn Hayes of Southaven looked over the shoulder of George Feathers of Nesbit as he scratched off lottery tickets at an Exxon Tigermart near the state line. The DeSoto County residents said they would rather spend money closer to home in Mississippi.
"There's a gas station right outside my subdivision," Hayes said.
Teresa Wood of Byhalia in Marshall County won $50 on the lottery's opening day. On Wednesday, she spent $20 and pocketed a free ticket and at least $23.
Wood said she would rather play in Mississippi, especially if the convenience store where she works would sell tickets. She then wouldn't have to drive seven miles to buy a lottery ticket.
Despite the distance, Wood said she'll be a regular Tennessee lottery customer. She looks forward to the start of multimillion-dollar drawings, such as Powerball.
"I'll sure be here for that," Wood said.
Revenue, where it goes
Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana all have lotteries. Mississippi has 29 casinos. Uses of gaming revenue vary among the states, going to education, prizes, commissions for retailers, lottery operation, highway improvements, local governments and a state general fund.
Total lottery revenue since 1991: $4,083,693,377
How the money is used: Of that, 35 percent, or $1,429,292,681, has been transferred to the Louisiana treasury. Lawmakers decide how to spend the state's share. Fifty percent, or $2,041,846,688, has paid for prizes. Retailers have gotten 5 percent, or $204,184,668.80, for commissions. The remainder has paid for lottery operation.
Total lottery revenue since 1993: About $19 billion
How the money is used: Of that, 33 percent, or $6.27 billion, has gone toward education. Fifty-four percent, or $10.26 billion, has paid for prizes. Retailers have gotten 7 percent, or $1.33 billion. The rest has paid for lottery operation.
Total lottery revenue since 2002: $1,530,827,619
How the money is used: Of that, a little less than 30 percent, or $455,108,485, has gone toward education. About 55 percent, or $841,955,190.40, paid prizes. Retailers have gotten 7 percent, or $107,157,933.30, in commissions. The remainder has paid for lottery operation.
First-day revenue on Tuesday: $10.8 million
How the money is used: Of that, 30 to 35 percent, or $3 million, is to go toward education. Fifty percent, or $5.4 million, will pay for prizes. Retailers get 6.5 percent, or $702,000, in commission. The rest is to pay for lottery operation.
Total casino revenue since 1992: $26,105,616,370
How the money is used: Of that, about 4 percent, or $1,075,567,784.47, has been transferred to the state's general fund. Around 1 percent, or $262,037,553.36, has gone to a bond sinking fund and highway fund since July 1995. About 2 percent, or $639,056,821.85, has been transferred to local governments.