Alabama House committee OKs lottery bill

Feb 10, 2016, 5:06 pm (7 comments)


A House committee Wednesday afternoon approved a bill that would allow voters to decide whether to establish a lottery in the state of Alabama.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Harper, R-Northport, would currently authorize a vote on a lottery. But Harper said in committee and after the vote that he expected an amendment that would describe distribution of proceeds, which he expected to be shared between Education Trust Fund and the General Fund.

"Our vote today is for our citizens' right to vote on a constitutional amendment," Harper said before the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee vote. "It's not about us voting for or against a lottery. Our vote today is to allow the people to vote."

The legislation is a stripped-down version of earlier attempts to establish a lottery, which usually designated the proceeds for educational or budget purposes.

If passed by the Legislature, the lottery proposal would go to the voters in November. Alabama's Constitution forbids lotteries, and Alabama is only one of a handful of states without one.

Both Harper and Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, who filed a Senate version of the legislation, said they were responding to demands from constituents.

"They asked me, 'Why don't we have a lottery in Alabama?'" McClendon told the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee Wednesday morning. "I said, 'Well, we've got a Constitution that says we can't have a lottery.'"

The proposals drew many opponents to public hearings in both chambers, who registered moral objections to gambling in general and a lottery in particular.

"Christ is nowhere in the lottery," Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, said to the Senate committee. "He is nowhere in gambling. I think we all know that." Later, Wingo told the House that "God's not going to bless our state" if it creates a lottery.

Paul Hicks of the Alabama Constitution Party called the bill "evil."

"This bill breaks every commandment of our God, directly or indirectly," he said.

Other speakers objected to the disproportionate burden the lottery had on low-income people.

"It is regressive," Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Shelby County. "It is a tax that does not provide help to those it should help... it enlarges the size of government. It feeds a growth process I'm here trying to stop."

Attorney Eric Johnston also suggested that based on previous judicial interpretations of the word "lottery," the provision could open the door to casino-type gambling.

Putting money into the state budgets could help the General Fund's ongoing problems, though experts have warned that lottery revenues do not grow and that a lottery won't provide a long-term fix. But Mac McArthur, the executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association, said his members needed something to fix the funding woes affecting state employees' salaries and benefits.

"What we know with this lottery is there is a chance to address some of these problems in the General Fund," he said.

McClendon said he was careful to ensure "we didn't open some other door" to gambling. Othni Lathram, the director of the Alabama Law Institute, told the House committee that the bill had been written to prevent other games

But Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, the chairman of the committee, said that he needed to see more language dealing with the mechanics of the lottery's operation, such as the distribution of proceeds.

"I do agree it's very vague right now, and I suggested to the senator he might want to tighten that up, or he'll have trouble in the committee," he said.

Mars pushed a combined lottery/gambling bill in last year's session, without success. He said he did not know if the votes were there to pass the bill this year. The Senate committee did not vote on the measure Wednesday.

Democrats have pushed for a lottery for years. House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, filed a bill earlier this year to create a lottery that would earmark funds for two- and four-year scholarships. Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, a member of the House committee whose district includes VictoryLand, opposed the bill because it didn't include casino-type gaming.

"If we are going to get out to the people and talk about gaming, it's time we deal with whole gaming issue," she said.

The House committee approved the bill on a voice vote. Rep. Ritchie Whorton, R-Owens Cross Roads, moved to have a roll call as the voice vote began. Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, had begun the voice vote and decided to continue that way to record it.

Harper said the scope of the amendment to the lottery proposal had not been decided, nor had the exact distribution of funds between the budgets.

Montgomery Advertiser


En ReVal

Minds change when you have $1.586billion on the table.

music*'s avatarmusic*

 I think that Alabama voters will pass a Constitutional Amendment. If they see restrictive language banning casino type gaming. 

 A simple lottery which includes Mega Millions, Power Ball, and State lottery games. They shall all be physical ball draws. No Random Number Generators.

 The people will vote with their dollars.

 The Alabama Lottery Commission will learn from the rest of the States. Like Wyoming just did.


Big Grin Angel

Candlelight777's avatarCandlelight777

Gotta love how these officials drag God into it...shakes head. I mean what good can come to those who are struggling that might win and have their lives changed for the better? what good could all the lottery money collected to fund education and other programs do for this state?.......rolls eyes at these law makers

TnTicketlosers's avatarTnTicketlosers

I cant wait till it opens,Im excited,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,There goes your little MAGIC MILE TN ....... THATS FUNNY>>>>>all the cars from Tennessee going to the casino in Kentucky..........whats up with that....we are sick of losing.......... thats whats up.

dallascowboyfan's avatardallascowboyfan

Hopefully the people of Alabama will vote for a lottery. If the Senators are worried/concerned they could just only allow Power ball/Mega that way their constituents don't have to drive to surrounding states.

cbr$'s avatarcbr$

OMG!!! I had to read this story 7 times to get the full effect of this story. It definitely gives a person  reasons to pause & think. There are a lot of things I could say about it. But I won't yet. I'll just hit some of the points that made me grit my teeth and the hair on my neck step up on edge.  I refuse to waste a perfectly wonderful day.                                                                       To Paul Hicks of the Alabama Constitution Party, who called the bill "evil". If you're all ready seeing evil in this bill it will be there because you gentlemen who write the provisions to the bill had the corrupt & evil thinking in your own hearts & minds while writing it.I don't see why you said negative things about something you want to have a positive effect. Made me wonder do you want something positive to come out of these for the citizen's of Alabama. By just listening to what you're say now & the the way you're thinking. I as a citizen will be keep a eye on you & some of the others so you don't get any ideas about mismanaging fund.  For these in the hearing who raised moral objections. Morals aren't change by things outside of a person. The choice is up to us the citizen's to raise our moral standards higher. "GOD" calls it  Free Will.                                                                                                  IF there was a award being handed out. For bad comments, Bad timing. IF you want to promote your State for Tourism go to. Rep. Rich Wingo. "God's isn't going to bless our state , if it create a lottery. We don't service the same "God".The "GOD" I service has never failed, there is nothing impossible for him to  do! He blesses exceedingly. 


Quote: Originally posted by TnTicketlosers on Feb 12, 2016

I cant wait till it opens,Im excited,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,There goes your little MAGIC MILE TN ....... THATS FUNNY>>>>>all the cars from Tennessee going to the casino in Kentucky..........whats up with that....we are sick of losing.......... thats whats up.

I live in Kentucky.  There are no casinos here.  Our legislature is too stupid to listen to the horse racing venues--even Churchill Downs.  All they want is the chance to have the voters decide to help out the horse community with monies coming from the casinos.  Deaf ears abound. 

There are so many KY cars @ Horseshoe Southern Indiana it isn't even funny, we went last night and cashed out my winnings. 

Had stopped, for a bit, playing MM & PB, but gave into the Indiana side of the Ohio and played last night.

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