The long-awaited lottery is coming to Mississippi in the next few weeks, and local residents and business owners seem to be excited about the upcoming opportunity.
The Mississippi Lottery Corp. announced Tuesday that the sale of scratch-off tickets will begin Nov. 25, about two months earlier than was initially expected when the state Legislature approved the lottery in August 2018.
The lottery corporation started mailing acceptance letters to approved lottery retail locations, according to Tuesday’s press release. Potential retailers who have not signed up for the lottery can inquire with the corporation about how to do so.
Mississippi residents will have the opportunity to stop in at local convenience stores and purchase lottery tickets.
One of the first local chain of businesses to offer lottery tickets will likely be Marathon service stations, operated by Brumfield Oil Co., which completed its application Tuesday morning in its bid to become an official retailer of Mississippi scratch-off lottery tickets.
Brumfield Oil president Pat Brumfield said representatives with the state lottery indicated that his stores would most likely be set to sell tickets as soon as Dec. 1. He is looking forward to the opportunity represented by the lottery in terms of economic development.
When jackpots get big, local residents often make the trip to Kentwood, La., to purchase lottery tickets. Brumfield said he is looking forward to the added convenience of a local lottery so that McComb residents don’t need to leave to play.
“People spend when they go down to Louisiana to buy lottery tickets,” he said, adding that lottery tickets aren’t the only things getting Mississippians’ money across state lines.
He sees the potential to further concentrate spending within Mississippi limits as a credit toward economic development.
On a day-to-day basis, Brumfield is looking forward to the implementation of the lottery for general revenue purposes. He hopes that by selling lottery tickets he might increase foot traffic in his stores, in turn providing more opportunities to make sales.
But before any of that is possible, Brumfield and other local business owners looking to sell lottery tickets will have to withstand the state regulatory process. Brumfield said that he is excited about the opportunity but there is a lot to be learned about the new system.
“It’s going to be a learning process,” he said. “Right now they’re (lottery officials) processing applications and we expect the equipment installation to start soon.”
Brumfield said that before store owners are able to sell lottery tickets they need to receive training on how to properly operate the state lottery, but that he does not expect additional delays and anticipates selling lottery tickets by the date suggested by state representatives. Selling lottery tickets will require the installation of new electronic terminals and other equipment that will require staff training.
Local residents seem to agree with Brumfield for the most part, arguing that many people already drive south to Louisiana in order to play the lottery.
Local residents who play the numbers residents have traditionally traveled south since the summer of 1991, when Louisiana started selling lottery tickets.
In March, McComb resident Mike Conerly won a $50,000 Powerball drawing after purchasing a lottery ticket in Kentwood after stopping in at a convenience store on his way back to Mississippi. If he had won the same prize in Mississippi that figure could represent a local economic benefit. But since the prize was won in Louisiana, all tax revenue benefits stay in Louisiana.
“Everybody’s already going down to play if they want to,” McComb resident Rick Johnson said. “If people are going to play anyway we might as well keep the money in McComb.”
Johnson said he occasionally goes to Louisiana to purchase lottery tickets and that he is looking forward to them being made available locally.
Convenience store employees seem to approve of the new implementation as well.
An employee at the Blue Sky store in McComb who asked to remain anonymous said she used to live in Louisiana and worked at a store that sold lottery tickets there. She is worried about selling lottery tickets in Mississippi because she isn’t sure she remembers how to do it.
She’s anticipating a rush for tickets once sales begin.
“It’s going to get really busy,” she said. “Everyone used to go down to Kentwood because it’s so close.”