New Alabama lottery bill passes House committee vote as merger mooted

Alabama lottery
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A new proposal that would create a lottery in Alabama has been approved, following on from Senator Greg Albritton’s lottery and casino bill.

On Thursday, a House committee passed a lottery-only bill by Rep. Chris Brown that would allow paper-based games and split most of the proceeds among three post-secondary programmes.

As reported by the Montgomery Advertiser, Brown said: “By bringing this bill, we are sending the message that we want the people of Alabama to vote on this.

“We have time to do this, and I expect to get it out on the floor and get it out.”

Brown’s proposal differs from that of Albritton, whose scheme would allow casino gaming in the state, in addition to the creation of a lottery.

Following the emergence of Brown’s proposal, Albritton said: “I had been told for months now my bill or any gaming bill would not fly because it’s an election year; it’s too late in the season; no one has the stomach for it; don’t send it to the House, etc.

“Their dropping (of) the bill and sending it through committee in fact shows that we have the time, they have an interest and they’re in a good position to move this.”

The last statewide vote on a lottery in Alabama took place in 1999 when state voters rejected its creation.

There has been scepticism over the chances of a gambling bill being passed this year, including by House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, who has referenced last year’s failed attempt.

Bingo parlours and officials in Greene County have voiced opposition to Albritton’s legislation, amid fears that it would shut down most bingo gaming in the county.

“We’ve just got to see the product that we have to work with,” said McCutcheon on Albritton’s bill.

“We’re going to be working with the Senate on this, because we’re running out of time.”

Meanwhile, Albritton said on Friday that a lottery-only bill like Brown’s is unlikely to move in the Senate, which tends to prefer more comprehensive approaches.

McCutcheon affirmed that he would only bring a lottery bill to the floor if Brown could promise 63 votes – the necessary number for a constitutional amendment – to move the bill to the Senate.

He also raised the prospect of the chambers creating a “blended product”.

“We’re not working against each other,” he added.

The Legislature is set to return on March 29.