Alabama lottery bills likely dead, lawmakers say

Published 9:27 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Proposals to create a state lottery and allow casino gambling in Alabama are unlikely to be voted on this session, their sponsors said Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Chip Brown had proposed establishing a state lottery and using proceeds to provide scholarships to help families pay a portion of tuition at two- and four-year colleges. Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton had introduced legislation to authorize a lottery, sports betting, and eight full casinos with slots and table games.

Both said Tuesday that the measures seem unlikely to win approval this year. There are six meeting days remaining in the legislative session.

“I would say more than likely, just given the time constraints, that we won’t be moving forward to put it on the floor,” said Brown of Hollinger’s Island. He said even if the bill got through the House of Representatives, there would be “potential problems” with it in the Senate.

Albritton’s proposal has still not been voted on by the full Senate.

“I think the issue is dead,” said the legislator from Atmore.

In addition to the eight casinos, Albritton’s legislation proposed two smaller gambling sites with up to 300 slot machines each.

Looming elections played a role in dampening support, Albritton said, but he mostly blamed the defeat on the number of entities — including current gambling operators — opposing the bill.

The eight full casinos would be located at dog tracks and sites owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Facilities currently operating electronic bingo games argued that was unfair.

“We know folks that are involved with this industry do not want to be regulated. They would love to get a license and validity to do extensive gaming, but anything short of that, they are against,” Albritton said.

Alabama is just one of five states — along with Nevada, Utah, Alaska and Hawaii — without a state lottery.

Any lottery or casino proposal would have to be approved by state voters.

Voters in 1999 rejected a lottery proposed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman. Since then, efforts to create a lottery or allow casinos have died from a fatal mix of conservative opposition to legalized gambling, disagreements on how to use proceeds and turf wars over who could operate lucrative electronic gambling machines.