Mississippi’s lottery is making more money than expected. It could soon go to education.

Sales of lottery tickets are averaging about $10 million or more a week statewide, and if that trend continues, education will get some of the proceeds from the Mississippi Lottery this fiscal year.

“The lottery has been way more successful than we anticipated,” Sen. Joel Carter, R-Gulfport, said this week during a meeting of the Gulf Coast Business Council.

Mississippi’s first lottery ticket was sold on Nov. 25, 2019 and Powerball and Mega Millions national lottery games were added two months later on Jan. 30.

From November through June — even with the coronavirus shutdown that cut sales by 10% to 13% in the early weeks — Mississippi Lottery Corporation transferred $70.7 million in net proceeds to the state treasury.

Since then the lottery has boosted state coffers by another $18.3 million.

Where the money goes

Some of the net proceeds in the beginning months were used to repay the loan taken to set up the Mississippi Lottery.

Under state law, the lottery benefits the infrastructure and education systems in the state.

The first $80 million after expenses and paying winnings goes to the State Highway Fund to build and maintain roads and bridges throughout the state through June 2028.

Anything over $80 million in net proceeds is deposited into the Education Enhancement Fund for classroom supplies and other uses.

July 1 starts a new fiscal year for the state and resets the count, so all $71 million of the proceeds for the first seven months went to roads and bridges.

Big winners

There have been some big winners in the Mississippi Lottery and education likely will be one of them before the current fiscal year ends June 30, 2021.

A Gautier woman became the state’s first multi-million dollar winner when she won $2 million in the June 9 Mega Millions game. In August, a Powerball ticket purchased in D’Iberville was a $100,000 winner.

Those who buy lottery tickets now have more games to play and ways to win, said Meg Annison, communications director for Mississippi Lottery Corp.

New scratch games are introduced the first Tuesday of each month, she said. And Mississippi got its own draw game when Cash 3 was introduced on Sept. 1. Unlike Powerball and Mega Millions, where the winning numbers for both are drawn two times each week, the winning numbers in this state game are drawn daily.

What about education?

Since the fiscal year began, MLC transfered $10.1 million in net proceeds to the state in July.

“This is a great way to start the new fiscal year,” said MLC President Tom Shaheen. “In the coming months, we look forward to raising even more revenue for Mississippi’s roads, bridges and education.”

The lottery added another $8.3 million in August.

At this pace, the state could surpass the $80 million for highways in February or March and the money through June would benefit education in the state.

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©2020 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)

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