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Alabama House approves electronic gambling, but not lottery

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The Alabama House of Representatives passed a revised gambling package that was brought by the conference committee late Tuesday night (30 April). After the house, the package is sent to the senate, where if passed, the voters can decide whether the state will have electronic and lottery games.

The package does not include sports betting. House passed both HB151 (72-29), a constitutional amendement, and HB152 (70-29), the framework.

It is expected that the lottery will be available in some form by 2026.

Alabama is one of only five US States that do not offer a state lottery. A 1999 ballot measure that would have added a lottery was defeated by state voters. Three of Alabama’s four bordering states allow legal sports wagering. Georgia is the only state that does not allow legal sports betting. Tennessee and Florida both offer mobile sports betting statewide.

Mississippi allows in-person betting. On Monday, 29 April, a bill that would have expanded Mississippi’s sports betting system to mobile devices statewide failed in the conference committee.

Alabama House approves stripped-down packages for lottery

Chris Blackshear, a representative of the House of Representatives said that the committee had brought “the best piece legislation” to enable the public to vote. This conference slowed down the massive gambling expansion that began in February.

These bills aim to allow the state not only to run its own lotteries, but to also join multi-state lottery games. Theoretically, voters who approve the bills would also be able purchase Mega Millions or PowerBall tickets.

Blackshear stated that the bills will set up an August 20th special election for lottery approval. This legislation allows for in-person lotteries, electronic games at seven different locations, bingo on paper and traditional raffles. Alabama Education Lottery would regulate the lottery, and proceeds from it would go to multiple educational initiatives. The revenue from gaming machines, including slot machines, would go to the general funds.

In Greene County, Houston county, and Lowndes county, electronic games of chance will be permitted at designated racetracks. This bill calls for the Governor to engage in negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians regarding land that is held as trust, and Class III gaming. Tribe operates already three retail Class II casinos in Indian Country.

The bill was debated for over an hour by lawmakers, who were mostly supportive of and complimentary to the conference committee. A state lottery was also a key issue, as it would help keep Alabama’s dollars within the state. Many lawmakers cited residents who drove to Florida and Tennessee to purchase tickets.

The bill is likely to be sent from the House of Representatives, and possibly this week. Alabama’s session of the legislature is scheduled to end on 14 May.

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