Lottery bill passes AL Senate committee

Updated: Apr. 23, 2019 at 2:52 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - UPDATE: The lottery bill passes out of the Senate Tourism committee 6-5 on Tuesday.

In order to get a state lottery system in Alabama, first it requires an amendment to the state constitution that would have to be approved by state voters, just to allow a state lottery to be voted on.

ORIGINAL: Lawmakers are expected to vote on lottery legislation this week. It could then head to you for a vote.

It’s been 20 years since Alabamians got a chance to vote on a lottery. In 1999, voters said “No” in a 54-46 vote. Some people we spoke with Sunday feel times have changed.

"I think people may be more open to it now after they’ve seen the success of it in other states,” Alabama resident Mary Margaret Bradford said.

“I think a lottery is really good, but I think the important thing would be. How is it allocated?” another resident, Muhammad Jan, said.

This week, state lawmakers could vote on the bill that would limit the lottery to paper tickets. Senator Greg Albritton, the bill’s sponsor, says he’s optimistic about the bill’s chance. A senate committee could vote on the bill Tuesday. Albritton cautions the bill won’t fix everything.

"Those that desire the lottery has for decades been portraying as the golden ring that you win. The reality I’m going into this is that the lottery will produce some money. This is true but it’s not going to produce as much as is needed. Its not going to produce to substitute anything. It’s not going to be a golden aspect at all,” Senator Albritton, (R)-Atmore, said.

According to the bill, money from the lottery will first go to pay for its expenses then go into the state’s trust fund to repay transfers made to the general fund from 2013 to 2015. Once everything is repaid, Albritton says half the money will go back into the trust fund and into the state’s general fund.

If the lottery passes a statewide vote, residents say the money needs to be spent responsibly.

"Alabama does have an issue with not allocating funds really well sometimes. So if the funds are allocated responsibly like to education and roads and transportation, I think it’s a really good idea,” Jan said.

Opponents say lotteries target poor communities.

Later this year, Mississippi is expected to become the 45th state to have some form of lottery. Lawmakers voted for it last year.

Utah, Alaska, Hawaii and Nevada join Alabama as states that do not currently participate in a lottery.

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