Legislators should talk about lotto again

Published 12:00 pm Monday, January 11, 2016

Thousands of people hit Mississippi’s roadways last week and over the weekend to visit surrounding states and pick up a lottery ticket.

With a Powerball jackpot at $800 million on Saturday, and the Wednesday jackpot fairly close to that, many people thought the odds of a new life and hordes of money worth the money for a tank of gas. With it now over $1 billion, the craze will continue this week.

People from throughout North Mississippi went past the border into Tennessee and spent their hard-earned money in another state, supporting another state’s schools. But, depending on how far they had to drive, they also bought gas at a gas station in Tennessee. They also might have made a road trip of it and stopped at a restaurant in The Volunteer State. Or visited a tourist attraction on their day off.

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At the gas stations on the Tennessee border, lines circled throughout stores and then snaked outside. A little past the border towns the lines were still long. And the bulk of the people in line: Mississippians.

We are confident that scenario held true in border towns in Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida as well.

The debate comes up routinely in small-town coffee houses all the way on up to the capitol in Jackson when the legislature meets if Mississippi should have a lottery.

Many say it will take away from the casinos, but there are plenty of people, who do not want to go into a smoky casino or to spend hours trying to hit a jackpot. Some people aren’t a fan of the business of a casino, the alcohol, the loud noises and bright lights. Some people would just prefer to go spend their money at a cash register, go back home to their families and hope for the best.

A lottery could seriously benefit Mississippi. It would be up to our legislators to decide where the funds go, and perhaps education could be it. That’s been said for so many years it’s now like beating a dead horse.

A lottery map shows the only states not participating at this point are Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada and Utah. How about we get with the program and give a lottery some serious thought? Let’s not be last in the nation on yet another thing. We could even capitalize on some of Alabamians’ hard-earned dollars along our borders.