Lottery players in DeSoto County and elsewhere in Mississippi who before had to head to other states to try their luck on scratch-off tickets now don’t have to travel any further than just down the street for their chance at winning some big money.
Retailers in Mississippi began selling lottery tickets under the Mississippi Lottery Corporation (MLC) at 5 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 25 and the results were outstanding for the first day of sales,
First-day sales were set at more than $2.5 million, according to the MLC, adding that meant an anticipated return of $570,000 for state coffers.
Initially, more than 1,200 retailers in 80 of the state’s 82 counties were approved to sell the four scratch-off games, including one game that offered up to a $100,000 jackpot prize.
Among the DeSoto County retailers selling Mississippi Lottery games was the new Amtel Express station/convenience store at the intersection of Green T Road and U.S. Highway 51 in Hernando. That was where owner Ron Patel said the first-day response was exceptional.
“Now they can come here and spend that money here, where before they had to cross the state line,” Patel said. “People were waiting and we were geared up to get started on day one.”
The state proceeds earned from the Mississippi Lottery are pegged to benefit the state, officials explained. The first $80 million each year of earnings is earmarked toward roads and infrastructure and are placed in the State Highway Fund, according to the 2018 state law that enacted the Mississippi Lottery Corporation. After the $80 million level is reached, the remaining state proceeds each year are to go toward funding state education.
“All monies deposited into the Lottery Proceeds Fund over $80 million dollars in a fiscal year will be transferred into the Education Enhancement Fund,” states the Mississippi Lottery website. “From and after July 1, 2028, the net proceeds will continue to be deposited into the Lottery Proceeds Fund and shall be transferred to the State General Fund, except for the amounts over $80 million dollars, which will continue to be deposited in the Education Enhancement Fund.”
Patel said his store had to undergo an extensive process to become an official retailer.
“We do have to make an application, a very tedious application,” Patel said. “We need to have a separate bank account and we needed to have an $8,000 bond to set up and acquire this. Then there were background checks and after all of that process and they approve us, we go through training and receive a certificate. They sent a crew with all of the hardware to set it all up.”
The state games are the only games being sold by retailers at this time, however the Mississippi Lottery will start selling the national Powerball and Mega Millions games in late January 2020.
The first scratch-off ticket was purchased by state Rep. Alyce G. Clarke (D-Jackson), for whom the lottery law is named, early on Monday morning, Nov. 25 at a RaceWay station in Jackson. It was part of a special event with music and officials on hand to mark the occasion.
The first day’s big winner in Mississippi was David Bond, age 65 of Wiggins, who won $2,000 playing the $2 Triple 7s game. The winning ticket was part of a group of five tickets he bought on his way to go deer hunting, he said.
“We believe Mississippi has more than exceeded expectations,” said MLC President Tom Shaheen. “We knew Mississippians were ready to play the lottery. We did not foresee the level of their excitement!”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.