Legislators consider state lottery

Published 4:00 am Saturday, May 9, 2015

A lottery “could do a lot for our state,” said Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy.

The proposal to create a statewide lottery is one of the proposals being considered by lawmakers – including traditionally staunchly conservative Republicans – in an effort to offset the state’s $700 million budget shortfall.

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However, the lawmaker said the consideration for a lottery – once considered a no-go in the state – is more likely this year.(Robert) ,” Boothe said. “

Discussions on how to mend the shortfall in the budget began back in February when Bentley announced his plan that included tax increases and budget cuts , but in recent weeks lawmakers have considered both the lottery and expanding casino gambling.

A constitutional amendment would be required to set up a lottery in the state, which would push it to a public vote. In 1999, Alabama voters voted no for a lottery that would fund college scholarships, school technology and pre-kindergarten classes, but Boothe said this time could be different.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh funded a study by Auburn University Montgomery to explore the impact both a lottery and the expansion of class III gaming – including slot machines and table games – could have on the state. The study estimated a total of 11,000 jobs would be created and more then $332 million in annual revenues netted for the state.

The study estimated that slot machines and table games alone would generate $64 million to $74 million a year in extra revenues dependent upon if the state were to levy 13 percent or 15 percent tax on gambling.

The state considered the idea of a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians to allow for expansion in the gambling offered at its three casinos and sharing part of the revenue with the state.

“The compact that the governor’s office has with the Indians, that’s an issue that needs to be resolved,” Boothe said. “Right now the Indians have slots, but this would allow them to have table games in their casinos. The state could do a compact for a three or four-year period, and if it didn’t work out then we could remove it.”

The lottery and gambling change might not be the simple fix to the problem, but Boothe said it was time to make a change in some way.

“We just need to quit kicking the can down the road and make a decision on it,” Boothe said. “People are waiting, and with the compact and the lottery, if those two things pass and went in, it would certainly decrease the amount of taxes we’re levying on the citizens.”