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State leaders split on lottery impact

The question of whether or not to establish a state lottery has been brought up in the state House and Senate numerous times–and because bills died that would create a lottery in this last session, it will come up again.

Governor Phil Bryant has said he hopes to see discussion of a lottery as soon as the yet-to-be announced special session that must take place before June 30.

“It may only mean about $45 million dollars,” said Gov. Bryant. “But $45 million dollars can go a long way when it comes to funding things like a trooper school, like mental health, and like public education.”

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn has announced that while he is against a state lottery, he is establishing a committee to study the impacts a lottery could have on the state.

“I’m hopeful that the study committee will come back and show people the lottery is not the windfall people think it is,” said Gunn. “It is not going to generate huge sums of money and solve all our problems.”

Gunn said he has heard reports of various potential revenues, but they wouldn’t mean much.

“In the case of $45 million,” said Gunn. “That’s less than half of a percent of the state budget.”

The speaker said there really is no generation of revenue, only swapping of hands when it comes to dollars spent on the lottery.

“We’re not generating anything,” said Gunn. “We’re just taking money out of citizens’ pockets, that’s already in their pockets, by means which I believe are somewhat shameful.”

Gunn added that he believes a lottery violates the basic pillars of being a republican. Click play below to listen:

The speaker also said he believes lotteries target the poor. Click play below to listen:

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