Clean lottery legislation introduced in Alabama Senate
Another constitutional amendment has been introduced in the Alabama Senate to legalize a lottery in the state, with this new piece of legislation fitting a more conventional definition of a “clean lottery” bill.
Sponsored by State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Range) and cosponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston), SB 220 would stick to establishing a statewide lottery. This is in contrast to a bill filed in March by State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville), which has been criticized for also including a provision that would give select existing entities in only a few counties the exclusive rights to operate video lottery terminals, which are essentially slot machines.
SB 220 would allow for the sale of lottery tickets, including instant tickets and multi-state lottery games (like Mega Millions, Powerball, etc.).
The bill declares, “The Legislature finds that lotteries have been enacted in many states and the revenues generated from those lotteries have contributed to the benefit of those states. Many Alabamians already participate in other state lotteries. Therefore, the purpose of the proposed amendment is to establish and provide for a lottery statewide to generate revenue for the state.”
After paying for the lottery’s expenses, lottery revenues would go to the Alabama Trust Fund (ATF) until all monies transferred from the ATF to cover General Fund shortfalls in FY 13-15 were repaid. At that time, the annual revenue will then be split equally between the ATF and the General Fund.
The ATF was created in 1985 after a referendum by the citizens of Alabama. It is an irrevocable, permanent trust fund that captures revenues from sales of offshore drilling rights and from royalties on the resulting gas production. A total of $437 million was transferred from the ATF to the General Fund under the Bentley administration. This transfer was approved by a referendum of the people in 2012 with verbal promises being made that the money would eventually be repaid to the ATF. HB 94 in 2013 then mandated that the legislature repay the money by 2026 and set up a payment schedule that began in 2014 to do so.
SB 220 specifically names video lottery and video lottery terminals as not being legalized by the legislation, as well as other “casino-style” games.
The “instant tickets” authorized by SB 220 are only paper tickets, such as traditional scratch-off tickets.
Albritton’s legislation, as a constitutional amendment, would go directly to a referendum of the people if passed by the legislature. SB 220 charges lawmakers with enacting separate legislation to administer, govern and regulate the lottery.
SB 220 and McClendon’s lottery legislation will go before the Senate Tourism Committee during its meeting Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Marsh chairs this committee.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn