Scores of Mississippi residents made their way to convenience stores as early as 5 a.m. Monday as the state's first lottery tickets went on sale in over 1,000 locations.
It is the first time Mississippi residents don't have to leave the state to buy lottery tickets anymore. And to mark the historic day, the Mississippi Lottery Corporation took to social media to ask residents to post a picture of their purchase.
"Mississippians will no longer have to cross into neighboring states to participate in these drawing-style games," said Tom Shaheen, president of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation. "They will soon have the opportunity for a chance to play big jackpot games four times per week, as well as many secondary prizes."
Prospective lottery players who want to find the closest Mississippi Lottery retailers to buy tickets can use the free Lottery Places app (www.lotteryplaces.com). Lottery Places is the only app available that can locate lottery retailers in every state and jurisdiction throughout the United States. It also finds lottery retailers in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, and much of the Caribbean.
Lottery Places can pinpoint any of the nearly 1,200 lottery retailers already approved for selling Mississippi Lottery tickets.
However, for decades Mississippi was one of only six states without a lottery due to strong opposition from politically powerful churches.
Last year, that officially changed.
In 2018, lawmakers authorized a lottery as the state was forced to close hundreds of unsafe bridges. The Mississippi Lottery Corporation was established under the Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law.
Proceeds from the sale of each ticket will go toward the state's infrastructure and education. The first $80 million a year from lottery revenue will go to the State Highway Fund, which will repair, renovate and maintain highways and bridges of the state, according to the corporation.
The rest will be sent to the Education Enhancement Fund, which helps fund pre-k and the classroom supply fund.
"There are some people for some reason who say they are Christians and they don't believe in the lottery but the thing about that, that really got to me was when you get to having the Powerball and any of the others where you're going to get to having the big money, if you go to your neighboring states, Louisiana, Tennessee or anywhere across the bridge most of the cars over there guess what tags they have on them, Mississippi," Rep. Alyce Clarke of Jackson told WJTV.
Mississippi is now among 44 other states to have a lottery.
The corporation was counting down the days leading up to the historic day on social media, telling residents to "get ready for fun."
While having fun themselves on the social media platform, the corporation also made sure to remind residents to play responsibly.
Mega Millions and Powerball tickets will go on sale in the state in January.