Mississippi is one step closer to state lottery as Gov. Bryant appoints 5-person board

in Lottery

Gov. Phil Bryant has appointed four men and one woman to construct and oversee Mississippi's fledgling state lottery, a corporation that could be up and running as early as late 2019. 

With urging from Bryant, Mississippi legislators in an August special session passed legislation that allows the lottery. Churches had long opposed it, and Mississippi had been one of just six states without one. Proceeds will mostly go toward improving state roads and bridges in the coming years. 

The five unpaid appointees to the lottery board of directors — who must be approved by the state Senate in the next legislative session — will be tasked with hiring a chief executive officer and other leadership for the new Mississippi Lottery Corp., determining staffing levels and approving contracts and multistate lottery agreements, among other oversight responsibilities.

The appointees, who will serve five-year, staggered terms, are:

  • Gerard Gibert, the CEO of Venture Technologies, an information technology company based in Ridgeland that operates several large data centers around the country. 
  • Cass Pennington, a retired educator who led both Indianola and West Tallahatchie school districts. The Indianoloa resident also served as executive director of the Delta Health Alliance for several years. 
  • Mike McGrevey, deputy director of the Mississippi Development Authority, overseeing business recruitment and development issues in the state. He lives in Decatur. 
  • Philip A. Chamblee, executive director of the Mississippi Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores Association, a group that represents and lobbies for about 250 petroleum marketers and convenience store owners, as well as the Mississippi Propane Gas Association. The Madison resident had weighed in during the debate over the lottery. 
  • Kimberly LaRosa, the CEO and president of Renaissance Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit founded after Hurricane Katrina that is focused on redevelopment. She lives in Pass Christian. 

“This group has exceptional experience in diverse sectors of public and private business, and I know they will carry out the affairs of the board effectively,” Bryant said in a statement. 

Gerard said in a Facebook post the board hoped to make the new lottery a "model for the nation." He noted his father loved to travel to Louisiana for the lottery. "Wish you were around today, Dad," he wrote, "as you could have enjoyed that experience without the drive." 

In an interview, LaRosa said she was excited to be a part of a historical process, especially one that would help roads and education, "two areas that desperately need funding." She noted the board's first priority would be to find a leader, and the steps beyond that were yet to be determined. 

"There are lots of good (state lottery) models out there for us to look at," she said.