By Randy Ray

The Mississippi Lottery is America’s newest state lottery program, launching in 2019 within six months of the passage of state legislation allowing lottery sales. The creation of the lottery is an interesting story, deserving a post all on its own. In short, lottery opponents were so sure this legislation would fail, they didn’t even attempt to oppose it in any meaningful way.

The Mississippi State Lottery is available to anyone aged 21 or older within Mississippi state lines. While most US states allow 18 year-olds to buy lottery tickets, many Bible belt states (like Louisiana and Iowa) restrict sales to adults aged 21 and up. Proceeds from Mississippi Lottery sales go mainly to the state’s Highway Education Enhancement Funds.

Here’s the list of all draw and instant win lottery games currently available through the Mississippi Lottery:

  • Mississippi Match 5
  • Cash 3
  • Cash 4
  • Powerball
  • Mega Millions
  • Scratch-Off Games

If that list of games seems a little shallow, understand that Mississippi’s lottery has only existed since 2019. It’s America’s youngest lottery program, so it deserves a little bit of a break.

Considering they haven’t even hit the five-year mark at the time of this post, the Mississippi State Lottery is doing a lot of things right. They’re participating in the country’s two most popular multi-state draw games (Powerball and Mega Millions). They’ve released an expansive collection of scratch-off games, including a licensed Wheel of Fortune game. Their list of retailers is massive and expanding. Players are also taking advantage of the state’s 2nd Chance promotion, to the tune of hundreds of thousands in prizes each year.

Still, Mississippi Lottery sales numbers are disappointing, even relative to other similar states. Arkansas is a great comparison, because the two states have a nearly identical population and very similar median household income. Somehow, the Arkansas Lottery sells about $120 million more in lottery games each year. How do they do it? Arkansas sells a larger variety of games – more draw and instant win games, including a wider variety of multi-state tickets.

The Mississippi State Lottery has a few things working against it. First, the fact that Mississippi has the second-lowest median household income of all US states. The average Mississippi family brings in just over $44,000 a year, frighteningly close to the poverty line. It’s clear from revenue reports and sales figures that a wealthy populace tends to buy a lot more lottery products.

Also, Mississippi is a small state. The top four state lotteries in terms of sales are Florida, New York, California, and Texas – those also happen to be four relatively wealthy states with massive populations. The future doesn’t look great for Mississippi in terms of population size. The Magnolia State is one of just three in the country to report dwindling population figures.

A final hurdle for Mississippi’s lottery to clear before it can start bringing in bigger numbers – conservative politics. Mississippi is in the thick of the Bible belt, and that tends to make things like games of chance suspicious at best, demonic at worst. Add in the fact that casino gambling is a huge industry in the state (Tunica and environs make up one of the biggest gambling areas in North America) and it’s easy to see why it took so long for a state lottery program to launch.

This post covers everything lottery players need to know about the Mississippi State Lottery, from reviews of individual games to notes on drawing schedules, how to claim prizes, and how to contact lottery authorities.

Probability, Return to Player, and the Mississippi Lottery

Lottery players need to understand just a couple of basic facts about probability math to work out which game offers the best odds. In this post you’ll read about overall odds of winning and return to player. These are two simple concepts that describe the same thing: a player’s chances of winning money for a given game.

Let’s start with overall odds of winning. Every US lottery program posts overall odds of winning for every game in their library. You’ll usually find this number printed on the back of every scratch-off game. You can also find this information on the websites of each state lottery program. This is a simple way of thinking about a game’s relative chances of paying out a prize. If a ticket is listed as offering players overall odds of 1 in 4, that means that (theoretically) 25% of the tickets you buy will pay out a prize.

Return to player tells you the same kind of information in a different way. A game’s return to player is listed as a percentage that tells you how much of each bet is likely to be returned to you in the form of prizes. If a game’s return to player (or RTP) is 50%, you’ll theoretically win back $0.50 on every $1 you bet.

The biggest takeaway about all of these facts and figures should be that they’re theoretical. If a lottery ticket gives overall odds of 1 in 5, you can’t expect to literally win on 1 out of every 5 tickets you buy. These are mathematical representations of the most likely future possibility, not guarantees of performance.

Remember that your real-world results aren’t likely to resemble the odds printed on the ticket over the short-term. Use RTP and overall odds as a guideline, not holy scripture.

How to Play the Mississippi Lottery (Drawing Schedules & Buying Tickets)

Currently, the Mississippi Lottery offers 5 draw games (including two multi-state games) and 55 different scratch-off tickets.

Here’s a short guide to each game available from the Mississippi State Lottery:

Mississippi Match 5

Mississippi Match 5 is Mississippi Lottery’s flagship game.

Tickets cost $1 per play, with an option for a multiplier at the cost of an extra $1. If you win a non-jackpot prize with the multiplier option activated, your prize will be multiplied two, three, four, or five times. The multiplier is random but weighted so that a 2x multiplier is more common than a 3x, and so on.

Players choose five numbers between 1 and 35 or use the quick pick option to have random numbers chosen for them.

Here’s the pay table for Mississippi Match 5:

  • Match all five balls & win the jackpot (min. $50,000) – odds of 1 in 324,632
  • Match four balls & win $200 – odds of 1 in 2,164
  • Match three balls & win $10 – odds of 1 in 75
  • Match two balls & win a free ticket – odds of 1 in 8

Your overall odds of winning a prize on Mississippi Match 5 are 1 in 7.2 That means about 14% of Mississippi Match 5 tickets are winners.

Mississippi Match 5 is drawn every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at approximately 10 PM Central Time.

Cash 3 & Cash 4

Cash 3 and Cash 4 are two of Mississippi’s three in-state draw lottery games.

Tickets cost either $0.50 or $1 each, depending on the player’s preference.

To play Cash 3, bettors choose three numbers between 0 and 9, or let the quick pick system choose from them at random. To play Cash 4, bettors choose four numbers instead of three.

Next, players choose a play type. Here’s a quick breakdown of each Cash 3 and Cash 4 play type:

  • straight – match all numbers in exact order
  • box – match numbers in any order
  • straight/box – match either exact or in any order
  • front pair – match the first two numbers in exact order
  • back pair – match the last two numbers in exact order

For a guide to the long and complex pay tables for these games, check out the Cash 3 or Cash 4 page from the Mississippi Lottery.

Cash 3 and Cash 4 are drawn at approximately 10 PM Central Time every night.

Mississippi Powerball & Mega Millions

The Mississippi Lottery joined the MUSL and started offering its two most popular games just six months after launching their first draw and instant win games. Currently, these are the only two multi-state games available in The Magnolia State, though plans are underway to join at least one more in the next calendar year.

Powerball and Mega Millions are described in this post in a single section because the games are too similar to break them up into two sections.

Not only are Powerball and Mega Millions the two biggest games in the American lottery, they’re also

practically ubiquitous in the industry. They also offer remarkably similar overall odds of winning, most of the time. More on that below.

Both Powerball and Mega Millions tickets cost $2. For an extra $1, you can add a win multiplier option on both Powerball and Mega Millions tickets. Also, they both use a pool of five regular numbers and one special number to determine payouts.

Powerball players pick from the numbers 1 to 69, while Mega Millions players pick from the numbers 1 to 70. With one fewer potential winning number, the odds shift slightly in the favor of Powerball, but a few small differences in the game’s pay tables pretty much wipes out that advantage.

To understand how that works, look at each game’s pay table, based on its minimum jackpot.

Powerball Paytable

  • Match all six balls & win the jackpot (min. $20 million) – odds of 1 in 292.2 million
  • Match five balls & win $1 million – odds of 1 in 11.68 million
  • Match four balls and the Powerball & win $50,000 – odds of 1 in 913,000
  • Match four balls & win $100 – odds of 1 in 36,525.17
  • Match three balls and the Powerball & win $100 – odds of 1 in 14,494.11
  • Match three balls & win $7 – odds of 1 in 579.76
  • Match two balls and the Powerball & win $7 – odds of 1 in 701.33
  • Match one ball and the Powerball & win $4 – odds of 1 in 91.98
  • Match the Powerball & win $4 – odds of 1 in 38.32

Your overall odds of winning any prize on a Powerball ticket are 1 in 24.87. That means, theoretically, about 4% of all Powerball tickets are winners.

Mega Millions Paytable

  • Match all six balls & win the jackpot (min. $20 million) – odds of 1 in 302.5 million
  • Match all five balls & win $1 million – odds of 1 in 12.6 million
  • Match four balls and the Mega Ball & win $10,000 – odds of 1 in 931,000
  • Match four balls & win $500 – odds of 1 in 38,792
  • Match three balls and the Mega Ball & win $200 – odds of 1 in 14,547
  • Match three balls & win $10 – odds of 1 in 606
  • Match two balls and the Mega Ball & win $10 – odds of 1 in 693
  • Match one ball and the Mega Ball & win $4 – odds of 1 in 89
  • Match the Mega Ball & win $2 – odds of 1 in 24

Your overall odds of winning any prize on a Mega Millions ticket are 1 in 24. Again, that means about 4%

of all Mega Millions tickets are winners.

When these two games are at their minimum jackpots, they’re identical odds-wise. When one game’s jackpot is particularly high, and the other one is particularly low, the odds shift a little more in favor of the game with the higher jackpot.

For the most part, though, neither game offers a real advantage over the other. Even a difference of a few tenths of a percent doesn’t necessarily make one game more likely to pay you out a prize than the other.

Powerball numbers are drawn every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10:59 PM Eastern Time.

Mega Millions numbers are drawn every Tuesday and Friday at approximately 10 PM Eastern Time.

Scratch-Off Games

The 55 scratch-off games available from the Mississippi State Lottery are broken up into six denominations. Below is a guide to each, including average overall odds of winning:

  • 9 $1 games, average odds of 1 in 4.81
  • 14 $2 games, average odds of 1 in 4.66
  • 3 $3 games, average odds of 1 in 4.51
  • 19 $5 games, average odds of 1 in 4.11
  • 8 $10 games, average odds of 1 in 3.98
  • 2 $20 games, average odds of 1 in 3.47

To get a sense of what the Mississippi scratch-off scene is like, here’s a look at the pay table for one of their most popular games, the $5 Wheel of Fortune ticket.

  • $100,000 – odds of 1 in 600,000
  • $5,000 – odds of 1 in 900,000
  • $1,000 – odds of 1 in 450,000
  • $500 – odds of 1 in 6,000
  • $100 – odds of 1 in 444.44
  • $50 – odds of 1 in 75
  • $25 – odds of 1 in 60
  • $20 – odds of 1 in 37.5
  • $15 – odds of 1 in 50
  • $10 – odds of 1 in 16.67
  • $5 – odds of 1 in 10

Your overall odds of winning any prize on Wheel of Fortune are 1 in 4.18. That means just under 24% of all Wheel of Fortune tickets are winners. Remember, these are theoretical figures, and your real-world results may not quite match up.

Where to Buy Mississippi Lottery Tickets

Mississippi Lottery says more than 1,900 retailers sell their products. These are mainly small stores, gas stations, restaurants, liquor stores, and other typical lottery sales venues.

Use the Mississippi Lottery’s Locate-a-Retailer tool to search for places to buy tickets by zip code or address.

How to Claim Mississippi Lottery Prizes

The Mississippi Lottery Corporation stipulates that all instant game prizes must be claimed within 90 calendar days of the announced end of that game. All draw-style prizes must be claimed within 180 calendar days of the winning draw date.

You can claim prizes of $600 or less at any Mississippi Lottery retailer. Understand that retailers have the right to refuse to pay a prize if they don’t have the appropriate cash flow.

You have two options for claiming prizes between $601 and $99,999 – at the Mississippi Lottery Headquarters or by mail. When claiming a prize of this level, whether you do it in person or in the mail, you’ll need a completed Winner Claim form, state-issued photo ID, and the original winning ticket bearing your signature.

If you’re claiming this prize in person, bring all of this documentation to:

1080 River Oaks Drive
Bldg. B-100
Flowood, MS 39232

If you’re claiming this prize in the mail, you’ll need to send all the above documentation to:

Mississippi Lottery Corporation
P.O. Box 321462
Flowood, MS, 39232.

If you’re lucky enough to win a prize worth $100,000 or more, you’ll have to claim the prize in person at the above address. You cannot claim prizes worth $100,000 or more through the mail in Mississippi.

Take note that, in Mississippi, prizes worth $600 or more are automatically subject to both state and federal taxes. Ultimately, you’ll be taxed at a rate of 30%. Mississippi also actively withholds prizes for winners with delinquent debts or who have outstanding child support payments.

Contact the Mississippi Lottery

You can email Mississippi Lottery with customer service questions at info@mslot.org.

The lottery maintains a general mailing address at:

  • Mississippi Lottery Corporation
    P.O. Box 321433
  • Flowood, MS 39232

Players with questions about games can call 855-946-4667.

Conclusion

The existence of Mississippi’s lottery is a kind of miracle. Might other lottery holdouts follow suit? Could the launch of a lottery game in yet another Deep South Bible belt state be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Look for the Mississippi State Lottery to join more multi-state games in the near-future. Discussions are already underway for the state to join Lotto America. Also, because scratch-off games have been the most popular product to date, expect to see a lot more scratch-off releases in more denominations.

Mississippi is starting strong out of the gate – for a young program, they’re putting up impressive sales numbers. Some pundits thought the lottery games would take away from the casino industry, but that hasn’t happened. Others thought the lottery would fail to launch because of the saturated gambling market along the Gulf Coast. That’s not come true, either.