Alabama Senate says no to lottery

Alabama Senate says no to lottery

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Controversial tribal gaming amendments help to kill bill

The bill to approve the formation of a lottery in Alabama suffered a reverse when the Alabama state senate voted to kill the measure by 27-7.

The bill died after the senate failed to approve amendments put forward by the state’s House of Representatives. The bill as proposed would have allowed for the formation of a state lottery and would have allowed casinos to be established at the state’s four racetracks. It was thought the various measures would have brought in circa $1.2bn in taxes and revenues for the state.

The first $100m on revenue would have been set aside to help bridge a Medicaid funding gap.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim McClendon, admitted immediately after the vote that the lottery bill for the 2016 special session was “dead”. “The people of Alabama have been denied the right to vote on a lottery. The people of Alabama made it clear that's what they would like the opportunity to do,” he said. “After the bill passed out of the House with a favorable vote, the Senate ultimately, killed that opportunity.”

The vote against the house amendments centred around controversial changes that would have allocated the allowed video lottery terminals (VLTs) to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which currently operates three casinos within the state. The tribe currently offers Class II electronic bingo within the state but does not have a revenue-sharing agreement.

The Democrats who voted against in the Senate wanted an amendment that would have allowed existing gambling venues in the state to offer the same games as the tribe if they entered into a compact with the state. 

Gov. Robert Bentley said that a compact with the tribe has never been on the agenda. The tribe has gone on record as saying they would be willing to enter a state compact that could be of benefit to both tribe and state.

The bill’s sponsors said it would have created circa 11,000 jobs. Despite the Senate defeat, sponsors of the lottery bill believe it can return next year. Alabama voters rejected creating a state lottery in a 1999 referendum. If the bill had passed the senate, the issue would have been out to the voters once again.

Totally Gaming says: The progress of state lottery legislation has never been smooth in any state, and the latest example of a bill being voted down provides a further example of how the competing interests in the US when it comes to gambling can sometimes prove to be too toxic for the politicians to stomach. A bill will almost certainly return as the case for lottery money to help plug holes in government budgets has been proven in state after state. But it will simply be a year (or maybe more) later than might have been hoped.

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