Is 2016 the year Alabama lawmakers consider a lottery?

Dec 28, 2015 10:25 AM

In 1999, Alabama voted down the idea of creating a state lottery. Sixteen years later, some Alabama legislators say it’s time reconsider the idea.

Rep. Alan Harper, R-Northport, said he will introduce a lottery bill in the upcoming legislative session to put the idea to a public vote again.

“People have constantly asked us, ‘When are you going to let us vote on a lottery?” Harper said. “I think it’s time the people had their say.”

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman proposed a Georgia-style lottery to fund college scholarships and prekindergarten programs. Voters rejected the referendum.

Republican legislators in 1999 brought some of the staunchest opposition to Siegelman’s lottery bill during the debate. Republicans now hold majorities in both chambers of the Alabama Legislature and have never embraced gambling as a caucus. However, some Republicans appear to be warming to the idea, particularly after GOP legislators have faced difficulties putting together a state general fund budget without tax increases.

House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said he favors the idea, if the money goes to the general fund.

“If you are going to do it, this is the year to do it – and let people vote on it in November,” Clouse said.

Harper said his bill would just put the question of creating a state lottery before voters. He said that where the money went could be decided later.

Forty-four states have lotteries. Only, Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska do not.

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