Posted on: February 1, 2021, 10:56h.
Last updated on: February 1, 2021, 10:57h.
Alabama is one of only five states that does not have a lottery. That could change this year.
State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) prefiled lottery legislation ahead of the Alabama Legislature’s upcoming session, which begins tomorrow, February 2. House Bill 199 seeks to amend Section 65 of the state constitution and establish the Alabama Lottery.
Revenue from the lottery would be split three ways. Forty percent of the proceeds would be directed to the state education budget, another 40 percent to the general fund, and the remaining 20 percent allocated for the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Rogers, a longtime state lawmaker who has served in the Montgomery capital since 1982, has long advocated for legal gambling. In addition to his lottery bill, Rogers is set to introduce legislation tomorrow that would legalize sports betting.
Bipartisan Gaming Support
Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, and Nevada are currently the only five states without a lottery. Rogers isn’t the only lawmaker who wants to remove Alabama from that list.
Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Talladega) says he too will introduce a lottery bill during the session. The Republican’s bill takes gambling expansion even further by requiring the state to negotiate a gaming compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
The tribe currently owns and operates three casinos in the state — Wind Creek Atmore, Wind Creek Montgomery, and Wind Creek Wetumpka. But because the state and tribe have never entered into a gaming compact to allow Class III Indian gaming, which is the class level for slot machines and table games, the casinos only offer bingo-based gaming terminals.
Marsh says a lottery and Class III gaming would provide the state with substantial new tax revenue. He wants to use that money to provide more state education scholarships and expand high-speed internet in Alabama.
I see this as an opportunity to do these things without taxing the taxpayer,” Marsh told the Associated Press.
Rogers’ sports betting bill would allow both in-person and mobile wagering. The Wind Creek casinos and state horse and dog racetracks would qualify for licensure. The legislation also requires a newly formed Alabama Sports Wagering Commission to create other types of sports betting licenses that would be available to other businesses and entities.
Major Revenues at Stake
The Study Group on Gambling, commissioned by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) last year, concluded in December that legalized gambling could deliver the state as much as $700 million annually. The group’s 876-page report additionally said expanded gambling would create nearly 20,000 new jobs.
“I continue to maintain the final say on gambling belongs to the people of our great state, and if and when I have a recommendation regarding a specific course of action, I will do so in full transparency to the people of Alabama, working hand-in-hand with the Alabama Legislature,” Ivey said in December.
Any motion to expand gambling in Alabama that is passed by lawmakers and the governor would still need approval from citizens. Constitutional ballot referendums in Alabama require a 60 percent majority support.