Mississippi residents line up to purchase lottery tickets in state for first time

The lottery netted $300,000 in the first two hours

Scores of Mississippi residents made their way to convenience stores as early as 5 a.m. Monday as the state's first lottery tickets went on sale in over 1,000 locations.

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It is the first time Mississippi residents don't have to leave the state to buy lottery tickets. And to mark the historic day, the Mississippi Lottery Corporation took to social media to ask residents to post a picture of their purchase.

Within the first two hours of the lottery system going live Monday, the Mississippi Lottery Corporation told FOX Business it already hit approximately $300,000 in net proceeds.

“This is not only a monumental day for the [Mississippi Lottery Corporation] but it is also an incredible day for Mississippi," said Dr. Mike McGrevey, chairman of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation Board. "Legislative members determined net proceeds from the lottery will go toward infrastructure and education needs, which are both extremely important to Mississippians.”

The tickets are available in roughly 1,200 convenience stores and other sites across the state.

However, for decades Mississippi was one of only six states without a lottery due to strong opposition from politically powerful churches. People often drove to neighboring states such as Louisiana to buy tickets there.

Last year, that officially changed.

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In 2018, lawmakers authorized a lottery as a way to finance road maintenance and infrastructure needs. At the time, the state had been forced to close hundreds of unsafe bridges.

The Mississippi Lottery Corporation was established under the Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law.

Democratic state Rep. Alyce Clarke of Jackson has been pushing for years to bring a lottery to Mississippi. She bought a ceremonial first ticket at a RaceWay store and gas station in south Jackson.

“It feels great. Finally, it becomes a reality. And it just goes to show you what happens if you don’t give up,” Clarke said. “Sometimes you have to try and try and try again.”

Proceeds from the sale of each ticket will go toward the state's infrastructure and education.

For the first 10 years, the first $80 million a year from lottery revenue will go to infrastructure needs. After the $80 million benchmark is hit, the rest goes to education. After the 10-year period is over, the first $80 million will go to the state’s general fund with the remainder continuing to go toward education.

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Mississippi is now among 44 other states to have a lottery.

The corporation was counting down the days leading up to the historic day on social media, telling residents to "get ready for fun."

While having fun itself on the social media platform, the corporation also made sure to remind residents to play responsibly.

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Right now, people can play four different types of games, and the Mississippi Lottery Corporation plans to introduce new games in the coming weeks. On Jan. 30, tickets for both Mega Millions and Powerball will go on sale. Winners can remain anonymous.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.