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Lottery bill filed in Alabama House; Co-sponsored by speaker and majority, minority leaders

MONTGOMERY — State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) filed a bill on Tuesday that would amend Alabama’s constitution to create a lottery.

The constitutional amendment is being co-sponsored by House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and over 70 other members of the House.

HB 418 would put the lottery on the ballot for a referendum during the upcoming 2020 general election on November 3 if passed by the legislature.

Governor Kay Ivey recently created a commission (which just met for the first time last week) to study the potential of expanded gaming and instituting a lottery in Alabama. Observers viewed this as Ivey attempting to cool talk of lottery and gaming legislation in this current session. However, it now seems that a clear majority of the House may be ready to proceed on their own.

Clouse’s bill would amend the state constitution “to establish an Alabama Lottery; to provide for the sale of lottery tickets, including instant tickets and multi-state lottery games; to provide for the distribution of lottery proceeds; [and] to create the Lottery Trust Fund,” according to the legislation’s synopsis.

Part of the text of the bill says that 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.”

The bill go on to declare, “Many Alabamians already participate in other state lotteries. Therefore, the purpose of the proposed amendment is to establish and provide for a lottery to generate revenue for the state.”

True to what Clouse promised before the session, the bill is primarily focused on funding education. The lottery bill specifically does not legalize “any form of video lottery or the use of video lottery terminal or any mobile, Internet-based, monitor-based interactive game, or any simulated casino-style game, including slot machines, video poker, roulette, blackjack, or any variant of prohibited games.”

If enacted the funds generated for the government would be split evenly between the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education’s world-class, voluntary First Class Pre-K program and a scholarship program for Alabama students seeking post-secondary educations.

The bill does not specify the exact details of how the scholarships would be disbursed; it requires the legislature to write laws to that end following the constitutional amendment being enacted.

The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism and awaits its first hearing. A fiscal note was not yet available for HB 418 as of Tuesday evening.

A clean lottery bill narrowly passed the Alabama Senate during the legislature’s 2019 regular session; that bill then died in the House.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.