Mississippi’s first-ever lottery tickets went on sale this week, ending its decades-long run as one of only six US states without a sweepstakes.
Scratch-off tickets went on sale Monday in about 1,200 convenience stores and other sites.
“It feels great,” Democratic state Rep Alyce Clarke of Jackson, who had been pushing for a lottery for years, told the Associated Press. “Finally, it becomes a reality. And it just goes to show you what happens if you don’t give up. Sometimes you have to try and try and try again.”
The state had resisted for years — facing heavy opposition from politically powerful churches — but lawmakers last year authorized a lottery to help finance its road maintenance and infrastructure needs
People are driving to the Magnolia State to buy their scratch-offs, said Mohamad Amro, who owns the Tenn Tom Express store in Brooksville, near the Alabama border.
“We are getting a lot of customers from Alabama,” Amro told the AP.
Alabama, Utah, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii are now the only lottery-free states in the US.
For now, four different types of lottery games are available in Mississippi, and the state’s lottery corporation plans to introduce new games in the coming weeks. Tickets for both Mega Millions and Powerball will go on sale on January 30. Winners can remain anonymous.
For the first 10 years, the first $80 million a year from lottery revenue will be used for the state’s infrastructure needs. Then the rest goes to education.
After that 10-year period, the first $80 million will be funneled into the state’s general fund, and the remainder will still be put toward education.
Only a day into sales, customers already have big plans, according to Amro.
“They are saying what they are going to do with their money after they win,” the store-owner said.
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