Lottery bills clear hurdles

Published 2:22 am Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Two separate bills that would establish a lottery in Alabama were approved in Senate committee yesterday, and will come up for debate on the floor, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, told reporters yesterday.

The first was the governor’s proposed bill, which would establish a statewide lottery, estimated at bringing in at least $225 million a year for the General Fund.

The second would create a lottery as well as allow the installation of lottery machines at the state’s dog tracks and authorize a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate casinos in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka.

Meanwhile, a House committee voted for a bill that would use the state’s share of BP settlement money over the 2010 Gulf oil spill to pay off state debt and free up $70 million for the state’s beleaguered Medicaid program.

The Alabama Constitution bans lotteries and games of chance, and any proposal will need to be an amendment, requiring three-fifths of the votes of both chambers — 63 in the House; 21 in the Senate — and approval from state voters. The Legislature must approve a lottery by August 24 to get it on the November ballot.