Alabama may soon welcome a state lottery and casino-style gambling.
State senators passed a constitutional amendment this week, along with three companion bills, to legalize these forms of gambling.
Alabama Senate give thumbs up to lottery and gambling
Senators passed SB 319 Tuesday night by a 23-9 vote. Next, the Alabama House of Representatives will have a say in the matter.
Once the House approves a final version of the bill, the decision falls to Alabama taxpayers.
Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, said he is eager to put this matter in the hands of voters.
“Every time I go back to my district, the message is clear: people want to have the right to vote on a state lottery and gaming. I appreciate the input from my colleagues in the Senate and the willingness of members of the House of Representatives and the governor’s office to participate in a discussion about this transformational issue for our state. I am hopeful about the potential of getting this constitutional amendment in front of Alabamians so that they have a chance to make the final call on this critical decision for the future of our state.”
Alabama’s extensive lottery plan will allow customers to purchase tickets both in person and online. According to a Governor’s Study Group on Gambling report, expanded gambling laws will help reduce illegal wagering activity.
It will also generate as much as $710 million in annual revenue for the state.
According to the proposal, gaming operations would happen in six Alabama jurisdictions:
- Jefferson County
- Mobile County
- Macon County
- Greene County
- Houston County
- Jackson County or DeKalb county
Many Alabama citizens currently cross the border into western Tennessee to play the lottery. If a state lottery sees the light of day in Alabama, Tennessee could see a substantial decline in sales.
Buddy bills adopted alongside constitutional amendment
Along with the constitutional amendment called for in SB 319, three companion bills were also given the green light.
The first, SB 309, details how the Alabama Lottery Corporation will operate, and specifies regulations surrounding unclaimed winnings. It also establishes a trust fund for lottery proceeds, which will be delegated to college scholarship funds.
SB 310 establishes a gaming commission and apportions money for rural broadband services, information technology, hospitals, grant programs and mental health initiatives.
Finally, SB 311 goes one step further, establishing stipulations for instances when illicit activity and banned campaign contributions come into play.
Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, is hopeful for what these approvals could mean for the state.
“This has been a long time coming. The people of Alabama deserve the right to be able to vote on gaming, and they have wanted this chance for the past 20 years. This vote will allow our residents to finally reap the benefits of gaming, by allowing those who play games in Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, or Tennessee to now play those same games at home.”
The Alabama Senate has passed measures stipulating how the lottery will function, where proceeds will go, and who will oversee the corporation.
Now, it’s up to the House to make the next move.