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3 chances for lottery, but all could fizzle in House

The Mississippi House could have multiple ways to vote on creating a lottery in the next several days.

But Speaker Philip Gunn opposes the game of chance and the proposals could die without ever coming up for debate.

Democratic Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville has tried to amend two bills to add a lottery. House Bill 967 would regulate and set a tax on wagering on daily fantasy sports. House Bill 918 would increase the maximum compensation allowed in charity bingo sessions.

Gunn must determine whether the lottery amendments are relevant to the bills, as required under House rules.

House Bill 804 originally dealt with determining whether criminal defendants are mentally competent to stand trial. The House Judiciary A Committee rewrote it to create a lottery at the urging of the committee chairman, Republican Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon. Because the committee made such a significant change, the revised bill could also be subject to questions about relevance under the House rules.

All three bills face a Thursday deadline. If the House does not vote on them by then, they will die. No lottery bills are pending in the Senate.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said during his State of the State address Jan. 17 that Mississippi should consider a lottery as state tax collections fall short of expectations.

Gunn, R-Clinton, is a leader in his local Baptist church and has been a longtime opponent of expanding gambling in a state that legalized casinos years before he took office.

Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several proposals to create a lottery have died during the past two decades, usually with little or no debate in the Legislature. Bryant has been elected with the support of conservative religious groups that oppose the games of chance, but he said several months ago that he would be open to discussion about the issue.


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