By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama senators could vote on a lottery bill this week as lawmakers try to get the issue of gambling — with or without casinos — before state voters for the first time since 1999.
Republican Sen. Jim McClendon of Springville said he hopes to get a Senate vote on his bill that would authorize a lottery where tickets could be sold at stores, kiosks and through a phone app.
The Senate Tourism Committee approved the bill last month, but it has yet to get a floor vote as negotiations continue over whether to include casinos. Earlier this session, a proposal to start a state lottery and up to 10 casinos failed by two votes in the Alabama Senate.
“The lottery is not dead by any means,” McClendon said in a brief telephone interview.
McClendon said his intention is “to take a vote on a straightforward lottery bill” that does not include casino gambling and see how much support that has. McClendon said he believes voters, at least in his district, are more interested in a lottery than casinos.
“I sure have heard from many, many, many people that just want to be able to vote on a lottery,” McClendon said.
Alabama is one of five states without a state lottery. McClendon’s bills would divide lottery revenue evenly between the state education and general budgets, but doesn’t earmark the money for any specific purpose.
Any gambling proposal would have to be approved by three-fifths of lawmakers and a majority of state voters. Alabama voters in 1999 rejected then-Gov. Don Siegelman’s proposed state lottery, but lawmakers in both parties say they believe voters are now more welcoming to the idea.
McClendon said Gov. Kay Ivey plans to meet with him and other lawmakers Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for Ivey said, “Gov. Ivey is actively having conversations with the Legislature and others to determine our next steps.”
“It is clear that the people of Alabama want the opportunity to vote on the issue of gaming one way or the other, and Gov. Ivey has committed to them that she is ready to dig her heels in and work with the Legislature to get that accomplished,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said.