Reps. Mac Huddleston, R-Pontotoc, and Nick Bain, D-Corinth, made trips to Little Rock last week as members of a task force created by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, to study the issues surrounding the lottery. Other members of the committee made a similar trip to Baton Rouge to garner information.
“They were very cooperative,” Huddleston said of the lottery officials in Arkansas. “I don’t feel like there was any border jealously there.”
Mississippi is one of six states in the nation that does not have a lottery. Currently, multiple state officials, such as Gov. Phil Bryant, argue that many Mississippians are spending money on lottery tickets in the neighboring states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. If Mississippi develops a lottery, it could cost those states revenue.
Both Bain and Huddleston said they were surprised at the overhead involved with the Arkansas lottery. Bain said only about 20 percent of the lottery revenue goes toward scholarships and the remainder goes to support the operation of the lottery, ranging from advertising to paying personnel to purchasing lottery tickets.
Bain said Louisiana has “a mandate” that limits the percentage of the lottery revenue that can be spent on the operation of the lottery. But Arkansas has no such mandate.
“I think it would be better” to have a mandate, Huddleston said. “But I don’t know. I was not even familiar with a mandate until the past 24 hours.”