Mississippi just began selling its first-ever state lottery tickets

For the first time, Mississippi residents can now play their own state lottery.

Instead of going to Louisiana, Tennessee or Arkansas, residents can purchase lottery tickets right in their own backyard. Tickets went on sale at 5 a.m. Monday after lawmakers passed a bill last year authorizing a state lottery.

State Rep. Alyce G. Clarke, a lottery advocate for whom the bill is named, made the first ceremonial purchase, the Mississippi Lottery Corporation said in a news release.

“This is not only a monumental day for the MLC, but it is also an incredible day for Mississippi,” said Dr. Mike McGrevey, chairman of the MLC Board.

More than 1,200 approved retailers — including convenience stores, grocery stores, casinos and even barber shops — jumped on board to get their chance at selling a winning ticket. They all went through a screening process that took about 30 days.

“Today would not have been possible without our retailers,” said MLC President Tom Shaheen. “Some are so excited they are hosting their own giveaways and promotions.”

The bill was signed into law on September 1, 2018, and after more than a year of preparation, residents are ready to get scratching. Proceeds will go towards education and infrastructure across the state.

While scratch-off tickets are now available, Powerball and Mega Millions tickets will not be sold until January 2020.

Only five states remain without a lottery: Alabama, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah.