The Alabama Senate now has dueling bills to establish a lottery.
Both bills have merit, but one is drawing interest because it will ask voters to consider only a lottery, with no electronic gambling included.
The other bill proposes to establish a lottery and allow some electronic gambling machines. It also calls for the revenue to be split evenly between the Education Trust Fund and the always ailing General Fund.
At this time, the only difference appears that one bill specifies where the money goes, while the other doesn’t. However, the bill that recommends only a lottery is likely to provide more money to the General Fund, which carries the bulk of the state’s services from law enforcement to prisons to Medicaid.
The coming week will see more Senate activity as the two bills are vetted. There is some confidence among lawmakers that one of these will reach the House, the governor’s desk, and finally the voters.
In past years, efforts to establish a lottery have derailed and infuriated many voters. Perhaps with more new legislators, the lottery question can finally be put to a vote.
Alabamians flock outside the state to spend a lot of money on neighboring lotteries. That’s a voluntary action and money that should be staying in Alabama. This state is one of the few in the country that does not have a lottery, and in today’s world of tight state funding, that needs to change.
We encourage lawmakers to get a lottery referendum before the voters. That’s what the people want.