Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, on Friday told reporters that there will be no video lottery terminals or casinos authorized in his lottery bill. McClendon said that his lottery bills, as introduced, were simply his 2019 bills, which were used as placeholders and then were substituted in the Senate Tourism committee and passed out on Wednesday.
The substitutes strike language that would have authorized video lottery terminals at dog tracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobile Counties as well as a fifth facility in Lowndes County.
“The two bills with VLTs were my 2019 bills as place holders,” McClendon said. “The bills as now subbed do not mention VLTs, Victoryland, or casinos.’
McClendon said that he is trying to pass a “pure lottery only.”
McClendon said that half of the money would go to the Education Trust Fund and half to the state General Fund. The two budgets are commonly referred to in Montgomery by the acronyms ETF and SGF.
Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, had spent nine months negotiating with all of the various gambling interests in the state on a complicated plan that would have authorized as many as ten full-scale casinos across the state with table games, slot machines, video gaming, as well as a sports betting book and a state lottery.
That plan was rejected on the floor of the state Senate when 13 of Marsh’s Republican colleagues balked at the idea. McClendon had voted in favor of Marsh’s bill. Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, had voted in opposition to the Marsh bill. Gudger and Marsh are now both cosponsoring McClendon’s legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, told reporters that he would support a clean lottery bill, but could not support casinos.
The legislature is taking next week off, but could be voting on McClendon’s lottery as early as next week.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s task force to study gaming in the state had predicted that a combination of casinos, a lottery, a sportsbook and a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians would bring in $600 to $800 million a year in new revenues for the state. A simple lottery is estimated to bring in between $160 and $200 million.
McClendon introduced a lottery bill in the 2016 special session on gambling. That bill was approved by the Alabama Senate with VLTs, but went to the House where the VLTs were removed. When it came back to the Senate, the Senate voted to reject the House changes.
The Alabama Constitution of 1901 outlaws games of chance so any gambling bill, whether it is casinos or a lottery would have to be passed in a constitutional amendment so still have to be voted on by the people of Alabama. The last time the legislature passed a lottery bill, the people of Alabama voted to reject it.