Mississippi House lottery attempt killed

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A lottery amendment stuffed into a House fantasy sports bill, as well as the original bill, died Wednesday evening.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, who strongly opposes a lottery, after several days of deliberation when it was challenged on parliamentary grounds, ruled the fantasy sports bill could be amended to include lottery language.

Then, when the lottery amendment was voted on a voice vote, Gunn started to rule that it had succeeded. But Democrats, who supported the lottery measure, were expecting defeat and stood to demand a roll call vote. The amendment was then defeated with 40 for and 74 against.

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, late last week offered the amendment to the fantasy sports bill saying it could not take effect until the Legislature creates a lottery. When he first offered the lottery amendment, Holland said, "It's time to throw the snake out into the congregation!"

After the amendment to the fantasy sports bill failed to pass Wednesday, so did the original bill. It would have treated online fantasy sports games much like casino gambling, with the state Gaming Commission overseeing them and levying the 8 percent state gambling tax on their proceeds. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.

The fantasy sports bill, HB967, required a 3/5 vote to pass. It failed on a vote of 65-53, needing 71 for passage.

Gunn on Wednesday had ruled against Holland's separate attempt to amend a charitable bingo bill to include the lottery language, saying the measures were too unrelated to allow such an amendment.

House Judiciary Chairman Mark Baker, R-Brandon, in committee recently stripped an unrelated bill and added lottery language to it. That bill is expected to die on the House calendar without a vote.

Gunn, before the session started this year, reiterated his opposition to a lottery and said he did not want the House to even vote on the issue.

In the Senate, which takes a different view of some bills than the House, a lottery proposal could be considered a budget bill and face a later deadline for filing and passage. Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, has drafted a bill in the Senate and is expected to file it as he has done in prior years. Last week, senators found copies of Moran's bill with a Louisiana lottery ticket attached in their chairs.

Supporters of a lottery, including a growing number of lawmakers, say it would be a way to raise money amid a budget crunch and note that most surrounding states already sell lottery tickets to Mississippians. Gov. Phil Bryant has said he's open to the idea, and noted in his recent State-of-the-State Address that Arkansas, a state similar to Mississippi in population, netted $80 million from its lottery last year.

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/08/house-lottery-attempt-killed/97667956/