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Alabama Senate Committee Approves Lottery Proposal

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The Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee has approved a lottery proposal submitted by Sen. Jim McClendon.

The proposal provides for Alabama Lottery tickets to be sold through retail locations, stand-alone kiosks and a mobile app. It also provides an outline for bringing casinos to the state. But legislators are torn between a wide-ranging gaming proposal and a stand-alone Alabama Lottery Bill.

This is the first time lottery legislation has advanced since 1999.

A similar bill submitted by Tourism Committee Chairman Del Marsh called for establishing both a lottery and suite of 10 casinos for the state. It fell just two votes short of approval one week ago.

Marsh hopes the proposal will serve to progress negotiations surrounding gaming legislation in Alabama. On hearing of the committee’s advancement of McClendon’s proposal, Marsh said, “You have members who want to see a more comprehensive gaming package and those who do prefer a simple lottery. All we did today was keep both alive.”

While it will be Alabama voters who get the final say on gaming in the state, McClendon said of his bill, “My goal is to allow Alabamians to play whatever games they are traveling out of state to play. The people will have the opportunity to vote … and see if they would like a plain and simple lottery. It doesn’t address slot machines. It doesn’t address church bingo.”

Alabama is one of five states that does not have a state lottery in place. Any lottery proposal would require the approval of a three-fifths majority of lawmakers and a majority of voters. The last time a bill advanced far enough for such a vote was Governor Don Siegelman’s state lottery proposal in 1999. Voters ultimately rejected the bill. But now, legislators believe, Alabamians have had time to warm up to the idea of a lottery and what those tax dollars could do for public services and local governments.

Upon returning from their weeklong recess for spring break, legislators will go back to the negotiating table, according to Marsh, with a better understanding of the proposals and their constituents’ views of legal gambling.

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