Alabama is one of the six states in the nation to not have a state lottery and Gov. Robert Bentley is looking to change that by introducing a new bill in legislation which pushes for the state lottery to be legalized. The Governor is expected to introduce the new bill on August 15 to the legislature and would require three fifth of the legislation to vote in favor of the bill.
Gov. Bentley had asked Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville to prepare the regulation for the new bill and made it clear that he only wants the lottery approved and was not looking to introduce any other forms of gambling. However Sen. McClendon has decided to prepare a second rival bill after talking to a number of legislators and decided to include electronic lottery terminals which will be available at dog tracks in Alabama.
McClendon stated that after speaking with a number of senators, he realized that many legislators were going to oppose the lottery unless the proposal also included electronic gaming machines at dog tracks. In the past, Alabama had allowed electronic bingo machines to operate at dog tracks but later shut it down. The Senator’s rival proposal will include electronic lottery terminals which are similar to slot machines as the terminals use a touchscreen. McClendon said he will leave it up to the people to decide if they want to vote for a proposal that includes electronic gaming machines.
The new bill will also allow video terminals to be installed at dog tracks in Greene County, Mobile, Macon County and Birmingham. The bill will give Gov. Bentley the authority to work with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and sign a compact. The tribe has sought a Class III gaming compact with the state for more than fifteen years, and in 2015 offered $250 million to turn their electronic bingo venues into Las Vegas style casinos. The casinos do not have to share any revenues with the state under their current status. McClendon’s bill will also allow for a bond issue that will be financed by revenue generated from the state lottery and provide immediate finances for the Medicaid program which is in dire need of funds.
Gov. Bentley’s lottery-only proposal estimated that it would generated around $225 million a year in annual revenue while McClendon’s new proposal, which includes electronic lottery terminals, is expected to generate up to $427 million annually. McClendon said $100 million from these funds will go towards education in the state and the remaining funds will go into the general fund.
Gov. Bentley is yet to share his thoughts on the new bill that McClendon has proposed. The last time a lottery bill was put to vote in Alabama was when Gov. Don Siegelman introduced a bill in 1999 and voters rejected it. The bills from Gov. Bentley and McClendon are also likely to receive stiff opposition as a number of legislators are against all forms of gambling, while others want the new bill to also include casino gambling.