Earlier this month, State Sen. Jim McClendon filed a constitutional amendment to erect a legalized state lottery in Alabama. The submission follows in the wake of polling data that an overwhelming majority of voters would welcome the opportunity to vote yes or no on the issue. Currently, Alabama enjoys a robust gambling culture. However, the billion-dollar industry is exclusive to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The group is exempt from paying taxes on gambling revenue.
The amendment details the system’s proposed rules and regulations, which include:
- Operations and safeguards
- Revenue and tax rules
- Permitted games
- Philanthropic requirements
- Relation to sports betting
McClendon asserts that he took careful consideration of the outcomes in other states with lotteries before penning the Alabama Lottery Act and enabling legislation. McClendon described the act as an Alabama-specific proposal. The act would come to a vote at the same time as the March 2020 presidential primary. It will be marked as Amendment 1 on the state’s ballot.
The Alabama Lottery Commission
The governing body created with the passage of the Alabama Lottery Act would be the Alabama Lottery Commission. The commission’s officers would be picked by Alabama’s governor, lieutenant governor, president pro tem of the Senate and the speaker of the House. Provisions for selections include residency, prominence in business, criminal background checks, political affiliations, current offices held and other potential conflicts of interest. Additional safeguards include the requirement of the management company to forego any contribution to political action organizations or candidates. Also, the organization must be subject to Alabama’s Open Records, Open Meetings and Administrative Procedures Acts.
All proceeds from lottery games and video lottery terminals stay in the designated Lottery Trust Fund. These funds are dispersed equally between the Education Fund and General Fund, with no amount of funds being set aside.
The state gross receipts amount to 24%. Twenty-two percent is allotted to the state level, and an additional 2% is routed the local government level. Regions with a licensed gambling facility pay an additional 1%, which brings the tax rate for those regions to 25% overall.
The full list of games permitted according to the act includes:
- Draw lotteries
- Mega Millions
Players can purchase tickets to the permitted lottery games at retail locations, video lottery terminals (in authorized licensed facilities — one per county), and via mobile platforms (ticket purchases only).
At this point in time, the act forbids slot machines, dominoes, dice roulette and any other live dealer game.
Treatment and counselling provision
Problem gambling is a subject that the act touches on, as well. The legislation requires money to go to the Department of Public Health to lend assistance to compulsive gamblers and public education.