Alabamians continue to cross state lines one year after launch of Mississippi lottery

in Lottery

One year after Mississippi became the last bordering state to institute a lottery system, Alabamians continue to cross state lines to spend their money on gaming.

Since its launch, The Mississippi Lottery has transferred around $100 million to state coffers where it will be used primarily to fund statewide road projects. The lottery launched in November 2019 but did not begin offering Mega Millions and Powerball tickets until January 2020. The lottery's first year also came in the midst of a pandemic which forced many people to stay home for extended periods.

Shayla Higgins estimated three out of every four customers seeking lottery tickets at the Sprint Mart are from Alabama.

"They'll bring out their list and I want this, this and that or like different sets of them and they'll buy two, three hundred dollars worth because they're like I'm driving two hours away, you know just to come and get this ticket," said Higgins.

Mississippi's decision put renewed emphasis on the issue which has divided and bewildered Alabama lawmakers for decades. Governor Kay Ivey announced in January 2020 she would form a study group to examine the factors in the potential formation of a lottery system. Two months later the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the legislative session and any hope of the lottery appearing on a statewide ballot in 2020.

The Alabama Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in 2021. Lawmakers will be forced to deal with the financial fallout of the pandemic but another series of questions will also exist: What is the price of having a lottery? What is the price of not having one?