The Mississippi Lottery provided its first funds for education this year and is already enjoying its biggest year in terms of earnings and transfers in its second full year of operation.
Growth in its second year of transfers to state coffers has outstripped that of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery during its first two years of operation.
Arkansas transferred $82.77 million in the lottery’s first year and $94.25 million the following year, an increase of 13.86 percent. Arkansas’ lottery was founded in 2009 by an amendment to the Arkansas state constitution and had its first full year of operation in 2010.
According to the latest third quarter report (a period which ended March 31), the Mississippi Lottery provided more than $101.5 million to the state’s treasury and $21.65 million of that went to education. That represents a 43.4 percent increase from the year before with three months still remaining.
That figure for the year so far beats the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, which transferred $71.6 million to state coffers for college scholarships with three months remaining in the fiscal year. Like Mississippi, Arkansas uses a July to June fiscal year model.
If earnings in the final three months of the fiscal year (that ends June 30) are similar to the same time last year, the Mississippi Lottery could end up transferring more than $130 million to the state.
Gross revenue on ticket sales for the Mississippi Lottery amounted to $370 million so far this year, with 83.41 percent of that coming from instant tickets. Prizes added up to 61.72 percent of gross sales.
That figure has already exceeded fiscal 2020’s total of $311.2 million, when the lottery provided $70.8 million to the state.
By law, the lottery is supposed to provide the first $80 million in revenues for the State Highway Fund, with the excess going to the Education Enhancement Fund. This fund is largely funded by sales tax revenues and splits its funds split between K-12, community colleges and universities.
In fiscal 2020, the Education Enhancement Fund disbursed more than $49 million for general K-12 education programs and more than $218 million to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which distributes funds to school districts. The state’s universities received more than $66 million, while community colleges received more than $44 million from the EEF.
Mississippi lottery retailers receive a six percent commission, which added up to $22.23 million so far this year. In comparison, Arkansas retailers receive a five percent commission.
The lottery was authorized by an amendment to the state’s constitution in 1994, but it took until the 2018 special session of the Legislature for the legislation to make it to the governor’s desk for signature. It was part of a multi-million infrastructure improvement package.
The only prohibitions on vending for the lottery is at Mississippi rest areas and for stores exclusively devoted to selling lottery tickets.