The state of Alabama is one of just five in the United States that does not provide lottery gaming. Year after year, residents wait to see if gambling will be expanded only to find that any proposed legislation falls short. However, now may be the time when Alabama lawmakers finally decide to move forward with lottery gaming. There are currently two bills under consideration in the state that would legalize the lottery, one of which was introduced last week.
Last week, H 418 was introduced as a single-purpose lottery bill. It will allow paper tickets to be sold by retailers in the state. It specifically does not allow video lottery terminals or online lottery gaming. The second piece of legislation is S 282, a bill that would expand gambling on a broader scale in the state.
On top of lottery gaming, this bill would allow tribal casinos in the state to operate as Class III facilities. Currently, the casinos are Class II, so they are limited as to the types of games they can offer. The bill would also allow for sports betting via Class III gaming. The tribes would be allowed to create two new casinos and place a 25% tax on gaming revenues.
It seems that the latest bill has a better chance of becoming law because it involves only paper ticket sales. Alabama is a very conservative state and they have been avoiding passing gambling legislation, including the lottery, for quite some time.
Is There Time?
With the coronavirus spreading across the nation, you may be wondering if there is time for this legislation to be considered. So far, at least 17 states have decided to postpone their sessions. Four other states have seen at least one chamber decide to do so.
Alabama is not in the mix and they are so far, not a hard hit state when it comes to the highly contagious virus. So far, they have under 70 cases. However, the House has already started to cancel committee meetings because of the outbreak. This could be a signal that the session will soon be postponed.
The legislation regarding lottery gaming does have support. The House has seen bi-partisan support including from the House Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders. However, Governor Kay Ivey does not seem to be on board.
In February, Ivey commissioned a study to take place on the topic of expanded gambling. The study is not going to be turned in until the end of the year and the governor has said she will not consider any legislation that involves gambling until she knows the results.
So, even if the legislation could move forward, the governor may not be willing to give it the time of day. Representative Steve Clouse is one who sponsored such legislation and has stated that he does not have plans to move the bill forward until he knows that the state Senate as well as the governor are on board.