You’ve heard that Mega Millions is predicted to be $1.6 billion now, but is your state participating in the multi-state lottery? Mega Millions tickets, just like Powerball tickets, are only sold in 44 states, as well as Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. This means that if you’re in one of the six states that don’t participate, then you’re out of luck. Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah all don’t participate in the Mega Millions lottery or the Powerball. (But that’s going to change soon for Mississippi.) Read on to find out why.
These states don’t have state lotteries, so they also don’t sell tickets for Mega Millions or any other multi-state lottery, according to Time. When possible, residents in these states are crossing the border to buy Mega Millions tickets. But the reasoning can also get a little more complicated from there.
Alabama Doesn’t Have Mega Millions Because of Religious Beliefs, But Some Politicians Have Wanted That to Change
Alabama doesn’t support gambling because of religious beliefs. However, there have been rumors since 2016 that they might eventually adopt a lottery because of how cash-strapped the state is. And that rumor is still holding strong. In fact, Alabama.com wrote in October that the fate of the lottery could hinge on the November elections. It’s likely that someone will introduce a bill in March, political leaders have said.
Utah Also Shuns Mega Millions Because of Religion
Utah also doesn’t support gambling due to religious believes. In Utah, Mormon is the dominant religion. The Church writes on its website: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opposed to gambling, including lotteries sponsored by governments. Church leaders have encouraged Church members to join with others in opposing the legalization and government sponsorship of any form of gambling.”
In fact, Utah’s state constitution bans all forms of gambling.
Alaska Doesn’t Have a Financial Need for a Lottery
Alaska seems to be doing too well in oil to bother with lotteries, BBC reported. They have charitable gaming, like bingo and dog musher’s contests. But they’re just not really concerned about having a lottery.
In fact, Alaska used to have casino Monte Carlo nights for charities, but the legislature blocked all of them in 1995 and gambling equipment was shipped to other states, KTUU reported. They revisited the idea of a lottery in 2015, but found that any kind of lottery might help the state, but it would hurt state-regulated charitable gaming, which support many non-profits.
Hawaii Is Afraid Mega Millions & Other Lotteries Would Hurt Its Tourism
Hawaii didn’t establish a lottery for fear it would hurt the state’s tourism industry, BBC reported. Senator Daniel Inouye once argued that gambling would attract “a different type of people,” not the “young children” or “young folks spending their honeymoon” in Hawaii. He died in 2012, but his legacy and opinions about a state lottery live on.
In January 2018, however, lawmakers proposed a three-year pilot program where proceeds from the lottery would go toward helping the homeless in Hawaii, Hawaii News Now reported. Critics, however, believed it would only make the problem worse.
Nevada Doesn’t Want Lotteries Competing with Casinos
Nevada, meanwhile, doesn’t have state lotteries because casinos are powerful there and oppose them, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Casinos apparently believe that the more money people spend on lotteries, the less they will spend on other types of gambling within casinos.
The Nevada State Gaming Control Board chair, A.G. Burnett, told ABC in 2013 that the decision was made in the state legislature more than 50 years ago. He said, “There was a decision in the state of Nevada as to whether we’d be just a casino-style gaming state or a state that allowed lotteries. The legislature put that language in years ago that said, we’re just going to be a casino gaming state without a lottery.”
Only charitable drawings are occasionally allowed, but these raffles must be approved by a gaming control board.
And there’s no need for the state to have a lottery, because Nevada already gets a cut from the state’s gambling industry, BBC reported. Mark Hichar, chair of the gaming law practice group at Hinckley Allen, told BBC: “The government revenues from gambling are such that they don’t see the need to have a lottery competing with those commercial interests.”
Mississippi Didn’t Want Lotteries Competing with Casinos, But Now They’ll Be Launching a State Lottery in 2019, with Mega Millions Likely Joining at the End of 2019
For a long time, Mississippi hasn’t had a state lottery for the same reason as Nevada, BBC reported. Riverboat gambling and Gulfport and Biloxi casinos are popular and influential there, leaving little need for a lottery. ABC News reported that lottery bills are filed almost every year, but they almost never even leave the gaming committee.
Rob Vickery, staff officer at the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told ABC in 2013: “I think that casino operators like the current situation because they’re the only game in town and the more conservative legislators don’t really want to go on the record as voting for gaming… You have this kind of unholy alliance that the gaming industry and the anti-gaming people would come together and be against the expansion of gaming, which would include lotteries.”
Mississippi does have charitable gaming, including bingo parlors throughout the state.
However, this is all about to change. In July, state lawmakers started talking about ways to bring more money into the state, which could include establishing a state lottery to generate $200 million that the state needs for infrastructure. And now, Gov. Phil Bryant has appointed a five-member Mississippi Lottery Corporation Board of Directors (newly appointed just a couple days ago), WLOX reported. He is going to call the first board meeting by the end of the month, and then they’ll meet monthly for the first 18 months. The board will be unpaid, and they will essentially build a private corporation from the ground up with a paid executive director.
They expect scratch-off games to be available by late spring or summer 2019, and Powerball and Mega Millions by the end of 2019.
Before Mississippi, Wyoming was the most recent state to adopt lotteries. It legalized lotteries in 2013 and began selling lottery tickets in 2014.