It's time to give the people what they want and they want a lottery, one Mississippi lawmaker said Tuesday on the House floor.
And the House signaled it is ready to give the people what they want by passing amendments on two separate bills Tuesday to have the Gaming Commission establish a lottery in the state.
State Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, who proposed one of the successful amendments, said he would participate in a lottery said he can't see what's wrong with the state having a lottery. He said he sees Mississippians going across the state line to purchase lottery tickets.
"It's here and I would like to see us get some money off of it," Reynolds said.
Reynolds proposed an amendment on Senate Bill 2541 to create a study committee on Fantasy sports contests. It says that half of the money made off a lottery would go to help fund education in Mississippi and the other half would go to cities and counties for roads and bridge improvements.
Reynolds estimates the state could raise up to $100 million a year.
The House also passed an amendment adding a establishing a lottery to Senate Bill 2524, which revises compensation for charitable bingo supervisors.
Long-time state Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, who has filed bill to establish a lottery for more than a decade, was successful in getting the amendment passed on the charitable bingo bill.
Clarke said Mississippi is one of only three states without a lottery.
The bills with the lottery amendments added will go back to the Senate. It's expected the bills will end up in House-Senate conference committee. Getting a lottery approved in Mississippi is expected to be an uphill battle.
State Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, and also a minister, said he believes fantasy contests and a lottery are forms of gambling.
"I never believe the House would pass it," Gipson said.
One of the main arguments against a lottery is that it encourages poor people to spend their money on the hopes of winning a big payout but with the chance of winning slim to none.
The argument in favor of a lottery is that it would provide the state a stream of revenue for projects or education without having to raise taxes.