Alabama House Speaker says legislature will take up lottery bill in 2019

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Alabama is surrounded by states that have a lottery, but so far, the state has resisted the trend.

The Nov. 6 election will give winning legislators a new four-year term and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon says a lottery will be on the agenda next year.

Mississippi has added a sports book to its gaming options and Tunica has started advertising the soon-to-be finished I-269 as a chance to “drive to win,” at the city’s gambling options.

McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said the Alabama House is ready to at least take up a lottery bill.

“I can say for sure that you’ll see a lottery bill in the first session coming up,” McCutcheon told WHNT News 19. “Now, I can’t determine what the vote’s going to be because I’ve got to see the bill.”

Where the money goes will matter a lot to legislators and ultimately, voters, if it gets that far. So, will the money go to education, or will it mean more cash for Alabama’s general fund budget?

McCutcheon replied, “Could be both, it’s hard to say at this point.”

Alabama Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, says specifics will help make the case for a lottery.

“I do think if you’re going to have a lottery, earmarking money for educational purposes tends to generate a more successful lottery than monies just going to the government,” Orr said.

While McCutcheon is unsure where lottery revenues could go, he is sure what Alabama won’t support.

“If we have a lottery bill out there, it must be clearly defined so that the people of Alabama have no doubt what the lottery issue is going to be,” McCutcheon said. “We don’t want to confuse that bill with other gambling interests. If it’s going to be a lottery, let’s make it a statewide lottery, so people can look at it, and then let’s make a determination on how we’re going to vote on it.

Mississippi reports that gamblers bet $10 million in the first month the state’s new sports book was open.