Speaker Mac McCutcheon says lottery will be a ‘priority bill’ in Alabama House

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The Alabama Senate narrowly approved a lottery bill Thursday. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon says the House is ready.

"It will be a priority in the House for sure," said McCutcheon, R-Monrovia. "This time the bill that has come from the Senate is what we call a clean lottery bill."

A lottery bill hung up in 2016 over the definition of a lottery. This time it's different, McCutcheon said.

"It doesn't include other gambling, other gambling issues that we have in this state," he said.

Before the bill reaches a House vote, a lot of people are likely to weigh-in.

"I'm sure there'll probably be some public hearings on the bill. This next week, I don't foresee the bill coming to the floor, this next week. But I do anticipate it coming to the floor, maybe the week after," McCutcheon said.

Georgia and Tennessee have used their lottery funds for education. The current bill puts the money toward the state's general fund.

"Where the funds will go is definitely going to be a point of debate and discussion," McCutcheon said. "There are many people that feel strongly about the lottery, but they feel like it needs to go towards the education."

McCutcheon said funding needs may shape voters' thinking.

"With us looking at corrections, the added costs we need to provide services in the state, and looking for sources of revenue, I think the people of Alabama are more inclined to look at the lottery now than they were even back in 2016," he said.

If the lottery is approved by the legislature, games in the state aren't coming soon. The measure would go before voters in November 2020 and if passed, the legislature would then have to set up a lottery commission. So, it'll be into 2021, before a lottery would begin and likely 2022 before the state sees any meaningful revenue.

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