JACKSON — The odds of Mississippi getting a state lottery this year are slim.
A lottery bill died because the House did not consider it before a Thursday deadline.
But its sponsor, Republican Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon, said there’s still a possibility that a senator could insert a lottery into a revenue bill in the next few weeks. Budget and revenue bills can wait until a later deadline.
Baker was taking a chance by even trying to put a lottery into House Bill 804 , which originally dealt with mental competency in criminal cases. House rules prohibit members from making drastic changes from a bill’s original purpose.
If Baker’s bill had been brought up for debate, it could have been challenged and likely would have been blocked by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton. Gunn said he had spoken to House attorneys about the measure.
“It’s just not the proper way to amend the bill,” Gunn said in an interview after the House finished working Thursday.
Gunn is a leader in his local Baptist church and has long opposed expansion of gambling. Casinos were legalized in Mississippi before he took office.
Lottery attempts failed in two other House bills Wednesday. In one case, Gunn ruled that an amendment could not be added because it would have changed the scope of the bill. In the other bill, Gunn said a lottery amendment was relevant and could be allowed, but the House defeated it.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said during his State of the State address Jan. 17 that Mississippi should consider a lottery as state tax collections are falling short of expectations. He noted that Mississippi residents frequently drive to neighboring states to buy lottery tickets, particularly when prizes are in the millions.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery. Several proposals to create the game of chance have died during the past two decades, usually with little or no debate in the Legislature.