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Andy Whitt: ‘Our biggest loser, once again is the citizens of Alabama’ after 2024 legal gambling attempt

State Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest) is sharing a more in-depth account of state lawmakers’ inability to pass legal gambling and lottery legislation during the 2024 session.

Whitt, who chairs the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, was charged with looking at gambling within the state by Alabama Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter last year. On Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Whitt discussed his frustration with how that process played out when lawmakers met earlier this year.

“Not only was it a disappointment to me, I had put in over 16 months of work hard work into this bill,” Whitt said. “We felt that we had a good deal. The Senate obviously thought different, that it needed to be watered down. In the spirit of negotiations the House went into it with good intentions, and was faithful in our negotiations with the Senate. We had a lot of belief in the Senate that they would hold uphold their end of the bargain and let’s it out for a floor vote. And we did that in the House and it got to the Senate and ultimately then failed by that one vote.”

RELATED: Whitt: It’s time we let the people decide the fate of gambling in Alabama

Whitt said outside influences successfully leveraged their might and resources to impact the final outcome in the Senate, which was not brought up for a second vote after the first attempt.

“Can’t tell you why. I have my suspicions,” he said. “Obviously there’s outside influences. But I will tell you that it was disappointing, but not just to me, but also to all the other House members that voted for it, and then the senators that did support the legislation.”

The lawmaker argued that the Yellowhammer State really missed out on an opportunity to benefit from the legislation.

“Our biggest loser, once again is the citizens of Alabama,” he said. “We’ve let them down again, and not allowing them the right to vote on a piece of legislation for lottery. And it was an education lottery. We had gotten it back to that point the Senate had changed. But we had gotten it back to an education lottery out of that conference report.”

“And that’s what we wanted people to vote on,” he added. “And I’m a firm believer that the people should be allowed to vote on it. And again, they unfortunately, have been let down and we’ll have to wait another year to see if it comes back up.”

RELATED: Ledbetter on fate of legal gambling: ‘At the end of the day, there just wasn’t enough time’

Whitt said if the Legislature wants to have a chance of passing it in the next session, it will have to come from the Senate first.

“You know, if it does, it’ll have to come from the Senate,” he argued. “I believe that it needs to be brought up in the Senate. Then let us bring it back down the House. The House has proven that we could pass it and they were willing to pass it. The voters want it. They deserve it. And they were quite disappointed. And I think some of the senators are hearing that now from their constituents.”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on X @Yaffee

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