Gulf Coast Casinos Working on Vaccine Lottery
Casinos and business on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi are working hard to ensure that the community is safe from COVID-19 by creating a vaccine-lottery program.
Across the United States, several individual states have created vaccine lotteries to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. Lottery operators are offering huge prizes, even $1 million, to those who have been vaccinated. The goal is to see more people take the shots and the COVID-19 pandemic start to slow down. In Mississippi, there is no current effort from government leaders to create a lottery style program to push vaccinations. Instead of relying on the government, casinos and other businesses are creating a program on their own.
Prominent businesses along the Gulf Coast are gathering resources to create a program that will provide vaccinated individuals from Mississippi with a chance to win prizes, even cash. The state is currently 48th in the nation when it comes to vaccination rates. Business owners think that time is of the essence and that if vaccinations can kick up now, it would help to lower the high rate of infection.
The goal is to provide prizes only to those who have been vaccinated. Funds for the new program are being gathered via the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Mississippi governor Tate Reeves has received sharp criticism for being hands-off when it comes to the virus, even as health care experts are begging for residents to be vaccinated.
Casinos are on board with the effort, and they are also doing their own projects to help with COVID-19 safety and vaccinations. Scarlet Pearl Casino CEO LuAnn Pappas has directed programs of her own at the casino. As of this week, around 700 of the 800 employees of the casino have been vaccinated. Cash bonuses are provided to vaccinated employees, up to $300 each.
The casino has even set up its own vaccination clinics to help with shot distribution. Pappas was very surprised that it was local leaders who spoke to her about a vaccination lottery program. The casino has donated $50,000 towards the program. She pointed out that the state took the lead in the vaccination rollout and then stalled and eventually stopped the effort.
Will Residents Take Part?
Most of the vaccine lottery style programs are offered in states that are not located in the south. The areas where the programs are available have a mix of conservative and liberal residents. In the south, the majority of people living in states like Mississippi are conservative. It is the conservative crowd that are less likely to take the vaccination and have all sorts of conspiracy theories as to why they shouldn’t.
If Gulf Coast casinos and businesses are able to launch a vaccine lottery effort, will it work? Will people go get the vaccine in an attempt to win a big prize? That remains to be seen. Those who have seen how adamant people in the South are about not taking the shot would say it won’t work and it will simply reward those who already are vaccinated. While that is not a bad thing, it still doesn’t increase the number of vaccinated.
It will be interesting to see the lottery play out and if the percentage of the vaccinated in Mississippi increases due to the effort. If players want to continue having access to casinos and other entertainment options, even dining, in a safe manner, it is important to consider vaccination and wear a mask. Case counts are climbing, and the state only has about 35% of its residents vaccinated.
Hopefully, the push from the casino community and local businesses will be what is needed to give residents the incentive they need to take the vaccination.