Alabama Senate debating lottery-only measure

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Senate Thursday afternoon took up another debate over creation of a state lottery. The lottery-related measures are the only items on the full Senate’s calendar.  

The current effort differs from a lottery bill defeated last month. That bill called for casino gaming and sports betting, along with a lottery.

This is a more straightforward effort, according to Alabama Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Shelby County.

“What we have here before us today are two bills, simple, straightforward lottery bills,” he said. “They don’t try to fix the world, they don’t try to fix anything else. All they do is provide a lottery for Alabama.

“Well that shouldn’t be novel, but that certainly is novel, in that we have 45 states with lotteries, every state touching the state of Alabama, geographically we’re totally surrounded by lotteries.”

One of the bills lays the framework to establish the lottery trust fund, corporation and commission to regulate and supervise the lottery. The other bill is the actual constitutional amendment that will ask voters to approve a lottery.

The lottery bill would create a lottery commission to supervise the games and establish a 50-50 split of proceeds between Alabama’s general fund and education budgets.

The debate over gaming in Alabama is has long been a two-part question. One, will voters approve a lottery? And, two, well before that vote, will the casino interests in the state allow a lottery bill to move forward without attaching a casino expansion.

For the past few years, legislators have said a lottery-only bill has the best chance of passage. That chance is now before the Alabama Senate.

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