Alabama Lottery bill falls short by one vote

May 14, 2024, 3:13 pm (7 comments)


Alabama lawmakers sick of indecision following years of debate

By Kate Northrop

A bill to authorize a state lottery and casinos in Alabama failed by just one vote, the closest the state has ever come to enacting a state lottery since 1999.

One vote made the difference in the Alabama legislative session, resulting in voters just barely missing out on seeing a lottery question on the ballot this year.

The last time Alabama residents saw a lottery proposal in the voting booth was in October 1999, when voters rejected Governor Don Siegelman's lottery plan 54% to 46%.

Governor Kay Ivey and leadership in the House of Representatives prioritized a new lottery bill over the course of the year.

The plan, which included legislation for a state lottery, authorized casinos, and legal sports betting, passed in the House in February by a vote of 70-32. The constitutional amendment needed at least a three-fifths majority, or 62 votes, to be approved.

A second bill outlining how the lottery and casinos would operate also passed by a vote of 67-31.

"The proposal passed by the House will clean up and crack down on the rampant illegal gambling and will give Alabamians the opportunity to have their say on regulated, limited forms of gaming," Ivey said in February. "This is a tough, complex issue, and I commend Rep. Chris Blackshear, Rep. Andy Whitt and House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter for their leadership. I also commend each House member who voted today to limit, regulate and tax gaming and lottery activities in Alabama. I will remain engaged as this legislation moves to the Senate. In their current form, these bills will continue to have my support."

Representative Chris Blackshear, who sponsored the legislation, said that Alabamians deserve a say in the choices they make regarding gaming in their home state.

"I think personally, it's a great day for the state of Alabama and finally, at least from the House perspective, we heard you loud and clear from the polling and we're giving the citizens a right to decide what they want in this state when it relates to gaming," Blackshear said after the bill passed in the House.

Representative Jim Carns opposed the bill, referring to the legislation as "rat poison." The bill would take money out of the Alabama economy, and that the issue was not as simple as voting on a yes or no question.

"I don't know of anybody that can stand here and say they have a comprehensive understanding of this bill and the following bill," Carns said.

Regardless, the bill headed on to the Senate, where it ultimately died with the end of the legislative session at the end of April. In leading up to the anticlimactic conclusion, however, the House and Senate went back and forth with several iterations of the plan.

Three weeks after the House passed the legislation, the Senate had approved a bill for a constitutional amendment to allow a lottery by a vote of 22-11, as well as a second companion bill that outlined regulation of a state lottery and a new Alabama Gambling Commission by a vote of 23-10.

The Senate's legislation was a toned-down version that solely focused on a lottery and did not include legal sports betting or casinos.

Senator Greg Albritton, who sponsored the Senate's bill on gaming, said that he liked the bill that had come from the House, but there would have to be some compromise.

"That's true with any legislation, is trying to find what we can pass," Albritton said. "The effort was trying to get control of this [gaming] industry. With this bill, we didn't get complete control. We got some control. And that's a beginning, assuming we can get this passed by the people and through the House."

The bill estimates that a lottery would raise between $305 million and $379 million in net revenue, which would be split three ways between education, a general government fund, and roads and bridges.

After some debate on pari-mutuel gambling taxes and fund allocation, the House passed a compromise plan, which ultimately failed in the Senate by a vote of 20-15. Had it passed, voters would have seen a state lottery on the ballot on Aug. 20.

Representative Thomas Jackson expressed frustration with the Senate's inability to agree on the issue and said his constituents will continue to drive into neighboring states to buy lottery tickets.

"They tell me, 'Since you all won't pass the lottery bill, we'll continue to support the children in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee,'" Jackson said. "We are hypocrites. That is what we are."

Representative Juandalynn Givan said her phone "rings off the hook" with questions like, "Will we get a lottery?"

"This lottery bill has come before this House more than any piece of legislation in Alabama history," Givan asserted.

On May 10, the Alabama House Democratic Caucus (AHDC) published a statement on the lottery and gaming legislation that failed to advance in the Senate.

"We are deeply disappointed that the people of Alabama will, once again, be denied the right to vote on this important issue," the statement reads. "...Inevitably, people will continue to spend money on the lottery and other types of gaming in adjoining states and, sadly, Alabama will miss out on that sorely needed revenue."

Representative Brett Easterbrook suggested holding the state education budget hostage by delaying its related legislation until the next session, similar to the lottery bill, if the Senate was unable to adopt a lottery and gaming plan. He wants to see the Governor call a special session to specifically address the lottery once and for all after years of debate.

Ivey said she had no intention of calling a special session.

"Why would I do that?" Ivey said. "They cannot come to a consensus among themselves. Why would I spend the time and effort and money on a special session?"

Nevertheless, she expressed disappointment with the Senate's vote.

"Every year, it's always 'wait 'till next year,'" she added. "I think people are tired of waiting until the next time."

Lottery Post Staff


MADDOG10's avatarMADDOG10

So, their residents spend their money in other States on Lottery. Makes a lot sense Alabama!


They have so-so Indian casinos there.  The one time I went to the one on I 65 N side of the road this seasoned casino player noticed something awry.  It was a huge circular casino and over and over again they'd announce 'another jackpot winner'.   Didn't take me long to realize that was fake, there were no winners.   Nobody screaming, no payout folks anywhere to be seen.

Granny Governor there needs to be put out to pasture. 

If and a big IF they ever get this to the voters would hope they'd follow Mississippi's example on how to set up and run a lottery.  They could appease the Bible thumpers like Texas and not allow pick 3/pick 4 drawings on Sundays.

Clarkejoseph49's avatarClarkejoseph49

The senate keeps voting against it. 

The people of Alabama should get to vote on it. 

Especially as it's Election year this year.

Artist77's avatarArtist77

Well, it was close.  The Governor does not control the state legislature. 

Inspiring and great to see a nearly 80 year old woman in her position.


So Tommy "Turtleville", tRUMP doesn't want the inhabitants to spend money on the lottery that he believes should be his to grift?

cottoneyedjoe's avatarcottoneyedjoe

Quote: Originally posted by poolshooter4 on May 15, 2024

So Tommy "Turtleville", tRUMP doesn't want the inhabitants to spend money on the lottery that he believes should be his to grift?

Neither Tommy Tuberville nor Trump are members of the Alabama state legislature.

Brock Lee's avatarBrock Lee

Quote: Originally posted by cottoneyedjoe on May 15, 2024

Neither Tommy Tuberville nor Trump are members of the Alabama state legislature.

ok but i can still blame them for my burnt bagel this morning, right?

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