Alabama Legislature

Senate Kills Lottery, Gambling Legislation

Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro are at the podiums during debate on lottery and gambling legislation on March 9, 2021. (Source: Todd Stacy, Alabama Daily News)

The Alabama Senate on Tuesday defeated a plan to start a lottery and allow casinos in the state by two votes.

Twenty-one votes were required to approve the constitutional amendment, but the Senate vote was 19 to 13 in favor.

Gov. Kay Ivey said the defeat just meant more work needed to be done on a gambling proposal, and she still supported giving Alabamians a vote on whether they want a lottery and gaming.

“This issue is too important to not get it right,” Ivey said in a statement. “No doubt gambling is complex and challenging, but I remain committed to giving the people of Alabama the final say. I also believe the work of my Study Group last year can continue to be helpful in finding the right path as we move forward.

“Should the Legislature wish to continue discussions on this topic, I stand ready and willing to engage,” she continued.

Sen. Del Marsh, R-Aniston, sponsored the bill and said he didn’t think gambling was a dead issue.

“It was the people who were going to make this decision … I’m just really a bit surprised that we didn’t let them do it,” Marsh told the Associated Press.

Shortly after Marsh’s proposal was killed, Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, introduced another lottery bill. His proposal would allow a state or multistate lottery and video lottery terminals in the state. Half of the lottery proceeds would go to the state’s Education Trust Fund and half to the General Fund. Taxes paid on video lottery terminals would be divided the same way.

McClendon has lobbied for a lottery in previous sessions.

Marsh’s plan would have allowed for a lottery, expanded casino gambling and legalized sports betting in the state. It would have used lottery revenue for college scholarships and other education needs. State revenue from casino operations would have been used to expand broadband access in the state and to fund rural health services.

The Legislative Services Agency had estimated the lottery Marsh proposed would generate $194 million to $279 million a year, and taxes paid by casinos would generate $260 million to $393 million a year.