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Home > News > Stagnant Alabama Gambling Legislation Garners Attention Due to Lottery Jackpots

Stagnant Alabama Gambling Legislation Garners Attention Due to Lottery Jackpots

Publish Date:April 30, 2024
Fact checked by: Chris A
Stagnant Alabama Gambling Legislation Garners Attention Due to Lottery Jackpots

Stagnant Alabama Gambling Legislation Garners Attention Due to Lottery Jackpots

The staggering $1.9 billion combined jackpots of Mega Millions and Powerball are driving Alabama residents to cross state lines in pursuit of their winning dreams. This exodus is fueled by Alabama’s constitutional prohibition of lotteries and gambling.

Efforts to introduce legislation for a state lottery, alongside tribal and commercial casinos and sports betting, are facing uncertain prospects within the Alabama Statehouse. The divide among lawmakers is sharp, and with their return to Montgomery on April 2, time is of the essence. The legislative session, which concludes in May, allows for only 30 working days, of which just 12 remain to bridge differences and pass legislation.

As the clock ticks, a significant divide persists between the House and Senate regarding the extent of gambling legislation each is prepared to support. Alabama State Representative Sam Jones (D-Mobile) highlighted modifications made by the Senate to HB 151/152, proposals that initially aimed to introduce a lottery, several casinos, and sports betting in the state. However, the Senate has opted to exclude sports betting and casino gambling from its legislative efforts.

“It is very frustrating to see what has happened,” said Rep. Jones, during an interview on the Alabama Politics This Week podcast. “We worked for 13 months to craft a very good bill and it was undermined in less that six days by the Senate. I honestly, at this point, don’t know where things go. I don’t think anyone does.”

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The Contents of the Gambling Legislation

House Bill 151 proposed a significant amendment to the state constitution to permit an official state lottery and in-person casino-style gaming at no more than seven licensed venues approved locally. It also allowed for limited sports betting, traditional raffles, and paper bingo. HB 151 was successfully passed on February 15. Complementing this, a partner bill, HB 152, also passed, paving the way for the establishment of a state gaming commission and lottery corporation by the governor. These entities would oversee and regulate the newly legalized forms of gaming.

The Senate approved the legislation after amending it to eliminate all forms of gaming activities, aside from a lottery. It permitted limited horse betting at select casinos. Additionally, the Senate divided the state lottery’s revenue into three parts, allocating it to the education fund, the Department of Transportation, and the general fund. These revisions were returned to the House, where they are scheduled for consideration on April 2.

Unveiling the Wealth

Proponents of gaming measures argue that Alabama’s absence of thorough gambling regulations results in a yearly financial loss exceeding $1.2 billion. Officials from Tennessee and Florida have observed that lottery sales outlets recording the highest earnings are situated along the Alabama border. In Georgia, it’s noted that the funds from Alabamians participating in the state’s lottery have consistently contributed to financing college education for Georgia’s youth over the past two decades. Meanwhile, Mississippi’s casinos benefit from the influx of money coming from across the state line.

In Alabama, for any gambling proposal to pass, it must secure approval from three-fifths of the legislature as well as a majority of the electorate. The last time Alabamians had the opportunity to vote on gambling was in 1999, when a proposed lottery was turned down.

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