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Alabama lawmaker tries again with new lottery proposal

Jan 28, 2020, 8:13 am

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Includes video report

An Alabama lawmaker says he plans to propose an amendment to the state's constitution to put an education lottery on the ballot for citizens to vote on in November.

The proposal by Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Dothan, gives half of the proceeds to Alabama's First Class Pre-K program. The other half would fund some college need-based scholarships. Clouse said Alabama could model it off of Tennessee's scholarship program.

"I think the general sentiment in the House, and I think the general sentiment around the state, is that it needs to be dedicated to education," Clouse said.

His proposal would legalize paper lotteries including scratch-offs and multi-state lotteries. Clouse said the fiscal office estimates the lottery would generate $167 million, and possibly up to $200 million, in proceeds annually.

The proposal would not legalize video lottery terminals, which are electronic machines similar to slot machines.

"I think our constituents want a chance to vote on a lottery proposal that does not include video lottery terminals," the lawmaker stated.

In 2019, several lawmakers wanted to see video lottery terminals legalized. Clouse suggested dealing with the video lottery terminals issue after the state passes a paper lottery.

Past lottery proposals have led to intense debates on both the House and Senate Floors and have ultimately died. Clouse carried a lottery proposal for the general fund in the House during the 2019 session. It failed after mixed emotions between both Republicans and Democrats.

In the past, Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, had not been supportive of a paper-based lottery because he believed it would make the current machines at Greenetrack illegal.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has proposed a plan to give them exclusive gaming rights they say would bring an initial billion dollars into the state. In the past, the group supported a clean paper-based lottery.

Sixty percent of legislators would need to approve the bill before sending it to the voters on the ballot in November.

Republican state leadership had said in December they wanted to address the lottery, local concerns, and agreements with the tribe at the same time before solely approving a lottery.

Alabama's legislative session opens on Feb. 4.

VIDEO: Watch the report

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