New lottery machines could help dog tracks

Published: Mar. 27, 2019 at 7:16 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The latest Powerball lottery is up to $750 million. An Alabama lawmaker sponsoring a lottery bill in the state legislature said people crossing state lines by the thousands to buy tickets could build support for his bill.

“No doubt about it. People in Alabama are fed up having to drive to Georgia or Tennessee or Florida,” says Sen. Jim McClendon of St. Clair County.

A part of Jim McClendon’s bill would ask existing dog tracks to have video lottery terminals where patrons can play a lottery game and get winnings.

“These are games you would be playing a lottery style game on, a gaming machine similar to the electronic bingo machines for instance that are already present in the state,” said Kip Keefer.

Keefer is with the Jefferson County Racing Commission that oversees the operation of the Birmingham Race Course, which has been keeping its head above water to survive financially.

Keefer says those machines would help. “I can tell you the addition of any gaming opportunity here, if the example of other states is applied could be extremely significant,” Keefer said.

McClendon believes his bill will put electronic bingo machines out of business and help preserve jobs at the state dog tracks. “They employ 4,000 people and what I want to do is get them legal along with the other forms of lottery we are all familiar with,” McClendon said.

The lottery bill should be up for a public hearing next week in Montgomery.

Sen. McClendon said proceeds would be taxed between 22% to 24% generating some $200-$300 million for the state.

There are reports the Poarch Creek Band of Indians may oppose the dog tracks getting the lottery machines.

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