Alabama is one of the six states in the United States that does not have a state lottery. Governor Robert Bentley backed a state lottery bill earlier this year as his government wanted to create a new avenue to generate income for the state and help with its budget. The state lottery bill cleared the House of Representatives and also the Senate.
Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper went on to add an amendment to the bill which clearly highlighted the definition of what the state lottery was all about. The amendment did not go down well with the Senate and in the end they decided to reject the bill in October. This prompted Gov. Bentley to form a Lottery Advisory Council who have been tasked with the responsibility of preparing a new bill that will have a better definition of the state lottery. The advisory council includes Rep. Connie Rowe. Gov. Bentley plans to introduce the new bill for approval in 2017 and should the bill be approved by Alabama legislators, it will then be placed on the ballot for a vote.
The Lottery Advisory Council has sought advice from New Hampshire and Louisiana Lottery executives since the lottery in both states has been highly successful. New Hampshire became the first state in 1964 to legalize the lottery industry and Louisiana legalized the lottery in 1990. Based on a report released by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Louisiana’s lottery was at an all time high in 2016 bringing in $507 million. Lottery sales in Louisiana have grown every year except for 2007.
New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre and Louisiana Lottery President Rose Hudson advised the lottery council and asked them to not use a narrow definition of the state lottery as it would tend to hurt them in the long run. Hudson asked the council to take the time and effort to highlight all details but to make sure they were doing it at the right level.
In a statement, Rowe said “We do not need to do something down here that is a misrepresentation of what our people back in our districts believe we’re down here voting on. If we don’t have a definition that clearly defines that, it can just shape-shift into some really interesting things that could be well beyond what the constituency that I represent had in mind.”
Louisiana returns 53 cents out of each dollar to lottery winners and 35 cents to K-12 education as per the state lottery gambling bill. New Hampshire returns 62 cents out of each dollar to lottery winners and 26 percent to educational institutes in the state. The new state lottery bill in Alabama is likely to adopt a similar breakup as voters want to see a percentage of the revenue being directed towards educational institutes. The lottery advisory council is scheduled to meet on December 15 for a final discussion before sending in a report to Gov. Bentley and the state legislature in January 2017.