Compromised Alabama Lottery, Gambling Bill Comes Up A Vote Shy In Senate

The ongoing saga for Alabama to get a lottery has been stalled by one vote.

After the state House and Senate were split on gambling legislation that included a lottery, a conference committee was established to find a compromise.

That compromise came Tuesday in the form of bills that would authorize a state lottery while including electronic games of chance at seven locations throughout the state.

The new form of the bills was sent to the House and was successfully advanced to the Senate. There, the bill to authorize the forms of gambling came up one vote shy of progressing.

Each of the two bills needs three-fifths approval to be put to a public vote.

It’s the latest hurdle in Alabama’s attempt to add lottery draw games and instant win games in the state.

Conference committee calls for state lottery in Alabama

The bills in question for legislators in Alabama are HB151 and HB152.

HB151 would authorize a lottery and limited forms of gambling. HB152 will deal with regulations and taxation of the different forms of gambling.

After the House and Senate were split on the bills, a conference committee of three senators and three representatives was formed to find a middle ground.

The committee consisted of:

  • Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro)
  • Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore)
  • Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman)
  • Rep. Sam Jones (D-Mobile)
  • Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-Smiths Station)
  • Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest)

Tuesday night, the committee released the new forms of legislation.

The committee came to the decision to advance a state lottery as well as the electronic games of chance. That includes slot machines and video poker, but not table games. Those would be allowed at seven locations around the state, in dog tracks and bingo halls.

The latest bill also called for the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. They are a federally recognized tribe in the state. A compact would allow them to expand their current gaming operations.

House passes bills, Senate comes up 1 vote short

The compromised bills were passed along to the House of Representatives Tuesday night.

According to The Alabama Reflector, the House voted 72-29 in favor of HB151 and 70-29 for HB152. To advance, each needed 63 votes of approval.

When the Senate received the bills, each needed 21 votes of approval to be put to a public vote. HB151 received a 20-15 vote, coming up one shy. However, the senators voted to carry over the bill for the evening:

“We had a vote that ended up being a test vote. The bills are carried over, so the legislation is still available to us to continue to debate it,” Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed told reporters.

HB152 wasn’t put up for a vote in the Senate, as passing HB151 would be needed first.

The bill remains alive as the Senate can work to find that additional vote over the final four days of the 2024 Alabama legislative session.

Months of debate have gambling bills on the cusp

The original bills the House passed earlier this year called for sports betting and legalizing casino gaming, on top of the statewide lottery.

When those bills reached the Senate, it removed sports betting and cut down the number of casinos to be installed.

The Senate also added electronic wagering machines at dog tracks and select locations.

After the House rejected the Senate’s changes, the six-person conference committee was created to attempt to find a compromise.

Should the Senate find the additional vote to authorize a lottery and the other forms of gambling, the public would get a statewide vote on Aug. 20. It would be the first time since 1999 that Alabama residents have had the option to vote on a state lottery.

 

Photo by Stephen VanHorn via Shutterstock

About the Author

Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis

Lead Writer
A member of Catena Media since 2020, Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer at PlayiLottery, where he handles coverage of the online and retail lottery industry in the US. He previously spearheaded news content at PlayMichigan, where he covered one of the most prominent online lottery industries in the US — among the many other aspects of Michigan's sprawling iGaming market. You can email him at [email protected].
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