Yesterday, the Alabama Senate Tourism Committee approved a measure that would allow voters in the state to decide if lottery gaming should be approved. It also appears as though the option to consider casino gaming may also be on the table. Residents in favor of a gambling expansion are encouraged to not give up hope yet as there may still be a way to bring both options to fruition.
Holding Out Hope
Senator Del Marsh was a driving force behind the effort to allow residents to vote for a lottery and casino gaming. The senator was hoping his bill would be approved, but it was narrowly rejected earlier this month. It seemed the effort might be over for the legislative session, but another bill emerged.
Marsh urged the committee to push the lottery bill forward, a measure proposed by Senator Jim McClendon. The committee agreed and decided to let it move through. They also approved legislation connected to Marsh’s plan to expand gambling in the state. This is the measure that fell short in a Senate hearing on March 9.
The senator wants his fellow lawmakers to have time to consider and maybe even amend McClendon’s measure to include sports betting and casino gaming. Right now, the legislature is on a week break starting this coming week. So, the issues will not be discussed until March 30.
The bill must be approved in this current session if voters are to decide this year. Senator Marsh has no doubt that citizens want to vote on the matter. Any change to the gambling industry in the state or the addition of a lottery must be done via a constitutional amendment that is approved by the voters.
What is McClendon’s Plan?
With the new bill, McClendon would see a lottery set up in the state and allow players to take part in Mega Millions and Powerball games. The lottery would also feature instant games. Tickets could be purchased at a retail location or online via mobile devices.
Net revenues from the new industry would go towards education needs as well as the state’s General Fund. McClendon seems to be focused on the lottery aspect and not much else. He was asked about sports betting and casino options being added and he said he wants to try and stay focused on the purpose of the bill which is the lottery element.
The Senator is trying to see all sides and just give Alabamians the opportunity to vote on something that would affect them. Right now, residents travel to nearby states like Tennessee to purchase lottery tickets.
It seems only fair to allow the residents to choose what is offered in the state, bet it a lottery, or also casino, and sports betting.
At the same time as the legislation is being considered, Senator Del Marsh was hit with a lawsuit by charitable organizations. The groups say that the senator was bribed by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to help push a casino expansion. Both groups say the allegations are completely false.