Alabama State Lawmaker Introduces New Lottery Bill
Sen. Jim McClendon in Alabama has announced that he is introducing a rival lottery bill that includes electronic lottery terminals in addition to the state lottery proposal. Gov. Robert Bentley has called for a special legislative session this week to debate and authorize a bill that will legalize the state lottery and Sen. Jim McClendon had offered to carry the bill through the houses for the Governor.
The Governor had made it clear that his proposal would only support the state lottery and not encourage any other forms of casino gambling.
However McClendon has also announced that he would be putting forward a second bill that has electronic games included. He said that he had decided to introduce the second bill based on inputs he received during his discussions with fellow lawmakers on what would ensure the passage of the bill through the Alabama Senate.
In a statement, McClendon said
I want to get the lottery issue before the people. Let them vote and make the decision.
Electronic lottery terminals are touchscreen gaming machines that can be installed as slot machines or used for other electronic games. The second bill comes even as many lawmakers have vowed to oppose the original lottery bill until measures are taken to support dog tracks which are suffering revenue loss due to the closure of electronic bingo operations by state authorities. Under the provisions of the second bill, video lottery terminals would be permitted at dog tracks located in Birmingham, Macon County, Mobile and Greene County. It also allows for a compact to be negotiated with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians by the Governor.
McClendon believes that the bill could pave the way for getting vital funds into the state’s Medicaid program via a bond program that is secured by the revenue generated from the state lottery operations.
According to McClendon, if the second bill is passed the revenue from the electronic terminals would be in the range of $427 million annually. He said that $100 million from this revenue would go to the state’s education budget while the remaining will be sent to the state’s general fund.
Governor Bentley had earlier said that he wanted the lottery bill to be a simple legislation. He has stated that a lottery was the best way to get in much-needed extra money to the general fund and based on his proposal that state lottery would generate around $225 million.
Voters across the state would need to approve the state gambling proposal. The bill is also likely to face significant challenge in clearing the Alabama Legislature since several members are opposed to gambling.
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