The Mississippi Lottery Corporation (MLC) is the first lottery start-up in the U.S. since 2013. Launching a lottery presents a unique set of challenges. What better way to face them than to bring in an experienced team to lead the operation? In Mississippi, that started with Tom Shaheen, the MLC’s first President, who was also the North Carolina Education Lottery’s first Executive Director and has been part of five lottery start-ups.

“The amount of planning and development that goes into a lottery launch is staggering,” said Shaheen. “An experienced team of staff and vendors is vital for a smooth process.”

In this case, the work was carried out in just 87 days. From the Mississippi Lottery Corporation’s selection of IGT as its vendor for both instant ticket and online lottery services on August 30th to the launch on November 25th, retailers were recruited, qualified, and trained. Sales representatives were introduced to the instant ticket industry, including overviews of the planning, production, and security processes. IGT produced the first tickets in October and delivered them in early November.

“The coordination between Lottery staff and IGT’s teams in Jackson and Lakeland, Florida, was seamless and laid the groundwork for a successful launch,” said Shaheen.

On day 1, the first four instant games went on sale at nearly 1,200 retailers across the state. Initial sales results exceeded the Lottery’s expectations, totaling more than $30 million in the first three weeks.

“Feedback from our players and retailers has been very positive,” said Shaheen. “We look forward to building on this foundation into 2020 and beyond.”

The first $80 million of the Lottery’s net proceeds each year will fund infrastructure improvements across Mississippi. Proceeds beyond $80 million will fund the state Education Enhancement Fund.

The MLC will continue launching new instant games every month to build up its portfolio, and draw-based games are scheduled to go live January 30th.