Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is expected to submit his lottery proposal for review before the end of this week and is expected to schedule a special session on August 15 with the Legislature. Alabama has been struggling to raise sufficient funds for its budget and the governor believes that passing an amendment that allows the state lottery to operate is the best solution at hand.
Governor Bentley made it clear that his proposal will not include casino gambling but could include electronic gaming. Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville is working on the regulation for the new bill and plans to push for Class II gaming permits that would allow video lottery terminals such as bingo machines. The proposal will not cover Class III gaming permits which means slot machines will not be included.
Class II gaming machines are expected to be introduced at four locations in Alabama which are the Birmingham Race Course; the Mobile Greyhound Park; VictoryLand in Macon County and GreeneTrack in Greene County. Alabama is one of the six states that do not have a state lottery and the approval of the state lottery is expected to generate around $225 million annually for the state government.
Governor Bentley stated that his proposal to legalize the state lottery was only a means to an end as he wasn’t really pushing for the state lottery to gain approval but for lives to be saved in Alabama. The government needs an additional $785 million to fund Medicaid and believes that the state lottery could generate a major portion of those funds on a yearly basis.
Sen. McClendon states that if Alabama votes in favor of the state lottery, Class II gaming machines could be up and running very fast, generating revenue for the government within two months. The governor also plans to create a commission that will be responsible for monitoring the state lottery. Members of the commission will be appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate.
In a statement, Governor Bentley said “I want to simplify things. We need funding for Medicaid because we need funding for the people. I think people are going to want to see the facts on the lottery and how the commission would be structured.” The governor plans on submitting copies of his proposal to the legislative leadership on August 4 before unveiling the proposal on August 5.
Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau on state lottery revenues from forty four states show that only 33 percent of money raised is directed towards state services, 62 percent is used for lottery prizes and the remaining 5 percent goes towards administrative costs. This means that Gov. Bentley will have to clearly outline in his proposal what percentages he plans to use on state lottery funds and how the possible $225 million will be spent.