Will Alabama get its own lottery?

State lawmakers began a special session this week in Montgomery to determine just that. The big issue is a potential lottery poised to boost Alabama’s budget. But where the money goes is a question still being determined.

Alabama is one of six states without a lottery. Voters rejected a bill proposed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman back in 1999, but the issue has not been voted on statewide since.

Gov. Robert Bentley said enacting the lottery would generate $225 million a year, and said it’s the only option to provide more money to Alabama’s floundering Medicaid program.

Bentley said lawmakers need $785 million to maintain Medicaid, but it’s $85 million short.

One lawmaker said he is not on board with Bentley’s proposal because it would shut down Alabama’s bingo operations, including GreeneTrack in Greene County.

“I know I personally cannot support it because it gives a definition of bingo in terms of traditional paper bingo that will wipe out what is already currently in my district,” he said.

Gov. Robert Bentley said that while he was against the lottery last time, he, like many people, have come around thanks to the need.

“Whether or not (the Alabama Legislature is) for a lottery personally, which, I in the past voted against it in 1999,”  he said. “Let’s allow the people of Alabama to help us solve this problem.”

If a bill is passed by Aug. 24, the proposal will make it onto the presidential election ballot in November.

Categories: Archives, Local News