ARDMORE, Ala. - The residents of Ardmore, Alabama are uniquely positioned to see what the lottery can do for a community. Just across the state line in Ardmore, Tennessee, they see people flock by the hundreds for the chance to make a million.
Tuesday, Alabama's House of Representatives is poised to start debate on a lottery bill passed through committee last week. It would, in essence, establish an Alabama lottery and split the revenue: 75% would go to the state's General Fund, and 25% to the Education Trust Fund. The people would need to vote on the plan as an amendment to the constitution.
Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest), who represents Ardmore, said he sees the impact of the lottery.
"Being in the town of Ardmore, we have about six lottery stores that I could throw a rock at in my district," he said. "When the lottery gets big in Ardmore, we have to reroute our school buses on Highway 53 because of the traffic flow in and out of Ardmore and the congestion."
He said he would support the idea of bringing the bill to the people, despite not being a gambler himself.
"I would support the right to vote. I'm not a gambler. I'm a banker. I'm tight as some would say. But I believe that the people of Alabama should have a right to vote on the lottery," he stated.
Michael Burnham, who lives in Ardmore, hopes he gets that chance.
"On the weekend it's amazing to see and even through the week, how busy our town is.But the Alabama side is not profiting anything from it!" he said. "I would love to see some of that money be able to go toward our schools. Funding for education. A lot of different things."
Brandon Renegar agreed.
"You see a lot of people winning and apparently benefitting Tennessee. Why not benefit Alabama?" he asked. "I'd like to see the schools get scholarship programs. And my pocket-- you never know I might be the next multi-million dollar Alabama winner. That would be awesome."
Both said they would like to see the money be helpful to their community.
"That is the biggest contributing factor to me. I'd feel like my money is being spent in the town where I actually live," Burnham said. "What a huge amount of money that would be. And what would that do for us?"
Rep. Whitt said for him, education is a crucial part of the bill. And he understands what the lottery could do to bolster retail in Ardmore and the rest of his district. He has heard from people of all kinds about the lottery issue and is eager to see how it plays out this week.
"Our stores across Madison and Limestone County would not see their revenue stream going across the state line," he commented.
The bill is first on Tuesday's Special Order Calendar in the House of Representatives. Leaders there have said they believe it could be a close vote.