Mississippi Has Passed a Lottery Bill: Now What?
On August 31, 2018, Governor Phil Bryant signed legislation authorizing a lottery, removing Mississippi from the list of states without a lottery (now down to five jurisdictions).
So, when will Mississippians be able to buy a lottery ticket? Through close analysis of the statute and anticipated procedure, it is possible to get some sense of the potential timeline.
The bill establishes the Mississippi Lottery Corporation, run by a five-member Board of Directors. The Board members are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Mississippi Senate. Once confirmed, the Board members will have five-year rotating terms, with no member able to serve more than two terms.
The Board is authorized to hire a full-time President of the Corporation to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the lottery, subject to the approval of the Governor. Once constituted, the Board will determine the process for solicitation of applicants for President and make a selection subject to the Governor’s approval. This process should take several months, even under the best of circumstances.
The appointment and hiring process will be closely monitored by both the press and the public. All meetings of the Board are subject to the Mississippi Open Meetings Act. All records of the Corporation are deemed public records and thus open to public inspection, subject to certain statutory exceptions.
Once the President is selected, he or she will begin to staff the Corporation. All employees of the lottery will be subject to background investigations prior to hiring, and certain senior level administrative personnel must be investigated by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. No person who has been convicted of a felony, bookmaking or other forms of illegal gambling, or a crime involving moral turpitude may be employed by the corporation. This investigation and vetting process will be time consuming and lengthy, and will delay all hiring several months.
Prior to any operations or procurements, the Board must adopt rules and regulations governing lottery operations in Mississippi. Once retained, staff will draft and revise proposed lottery regulations – another process that could take several months.
By law, the corporation has the option to purchase, lease or lease-purchase necessary goods or services. While the corporation is not able to contract out the total operation and administration of the lottery, it may make procurements for lottery game design, lottery ticket distribution to retailers, supply of goods and services, advertising and the like.
The Board must approve “major procurements”, which are for items, products or services of $1,000,000 or more, including major advertising contracts, annuity contracts, prizes, products and services unique to the lottery, and may enter into such contracts only after a formal bidding process. In bidding, the corporation may do its own procurement or may utilize the services of the Department of Finance and Administration, the Department of Information Technology Services, or other state agencies. Bidding and service procurement will be another time-consuming process; unsuccessful bidders may litigate over not being selected, resulting in even further delays.
Finally, the corporation must investigate, select and enter into agreements with hundreds of lottery retailers. The legislation sets minimum standards for such retailers, and it specifically authorizes Mississippi casinos to act as lottery retailers. This retailer investigation and retention process could also take months.
So, even with a lot of luck, the first Mississippi lottery ticket will likely not be sold until the last quarter of 2019 or first quarter of 2020.