Published: February 26, 2023

Lottery bills in Alabama 'fluid' in upcoming session as push continues to get it passed

Whether people will have a chance to vote on having a lottery in Alabama is still up in the air. With the legislative session right around the corner, there's discussion around whether or not a bill will make it to the hands of voters this year.

"We're in that stage right now where we are exploring possibilities and looking at what we can possibly pass this session. We go in session on March 7th and will look at what can happen. I want people to have the right to vote on a lottery, vote it up or down, we want the lottery or we don’t want the lottery," said Representative Chip Brown (R), House District 105.

People in the state haven't voted on a lottery since 1999. At that time, it was voted down. Since then, the bill has been proposed, but never passed by both the house and senate.

"The bill I brought last year, we didn’t bring it up 'til the end of the session because the timing wasn’t right. We were waiting on the senate to see what the senate was going to do because they have several different gaming packages they were looking to move and those stalled and so, there were quite a number of us that wanted to move a lottery only legislation," said Brown. "I prefer giving the people the ability to vote on each of them as individual packages, vote on lottery separately, vote on sports gaming separately and vote on any casino legislation separately and they are all stand alone. The lottery is much more favorable to people than the other two. So give the people the option, let them decide."

However Brown said there's a chance it may not be brought up this year.

"It's always fluid. It’s a possibility that it may not even come up but we have to be ready to take any opportunities we can to move legislation to give Alabama the opportunity to have lottery," said Brown. "I think it's one of those issues we continue to kick the can down the road and I think it's time we allow people to have a voice."

Brown said the estimates of what Alabama would receive off of a lottery went up into the hundreds of millions, adding that is money that is going out of state.

"People in Alabama have been playing the lottery for years, we just have been playing it in other states. The jackpots get big and you go to Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi lines and there are Alabama license plates lined up buying lottery tickets and I think that’s money that needs to stay in Alabama. We need to capture that money and give the people the ability to have their voices heard," Brown explained.

SEE ALSO: 'It only takes one ticket:' Alabamians head to Tennessee to play Powerball

Brown also said Alabama is one of only a few states left that don't participate in the lottery. He said 'if the people don't want it, that's fine,' but believes they should have the chance to vote on it again. He said people he talks to in his district 'overwhelmingly support' having a lottery. He encourages freshman legislatures to go out and speak with the people they serve.

"I think that’s the big question. Where do they fall on the issue? I would encourage them to get in the car and ride over the state line, and see what's going on over there. If you look at any of these neighboring states." said Brown. "It can only hang out there so long and it's amazing to me we haven’t settled this issue for years."

We asked Brown if he plans to file a bill or co-sponsor a bill this year for the lottery.

"I know there are several of us, in the house and senate that are looking at what are the possibilities and what form that legislation would take. Is it a comprehensive bill or stand alone bill?" responded Brown.

Brown said he prefers a stand alone bill, noting he believes they are all separate issues and that a lottery bill would stand a better chance of passing alone, in his opinion.

"We will see what happens, I would like to see it move along," said Brown.

We asked several people if they support having a lottery in Alabama.

"Yeah I think it should. I mean it's paid for a lot of stuff in Georgia and Florida so I think we could benefit from it too," said Logan Brenner.

"I think it would be pretty cool, it would be neat, something that I think a lot of people wanted for a long time," Xavier Lawrence responded.

"I think a lottery would be good as long as the proceeds do go to the school and public education," said Heather Newbiggin.

"We've seen in other proven states, especially across the south, and not only out in the Midwest, but other parts of the country, that lottery bills have statistically done well in most places, especially when refunded and put into education and other social programs," said Lindsey Ward.

Another man we spoke with said although he does not agree with gambling, he would like to see it passed this year.

"A lot of people don't believe in gambling. I don't believe in gambling either, but tax wise, you got the schools. It would be a good thing because the ones that does gamble, it goes outside Alabama, so why not see the money here in Alabama," explained George Nix.

The legislative session starts March 7.


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