Alabama Senate was one vote shy of passing lottery bill, leaving everything in limbo

A vote for the lottery in Alabama could be coming soon!

Alabama Senate was one vote shy of passing lottery bill, leaving everything in limbo
Todd Betzold

Alabama lawmakers have been going back and forth on the possibility of bringing a lottery to the state for years.

Things got super close this week to bringing the matter to Alabama voters, but the Alabama Senate came one vote shy of passing the gambling bills that would move the measure to that next step.

No sports betting in the latest bills

A six-member Conference Committee did some tweaking of House Bills 151 and 152 on Tuesday. They approved these new versions, which didn't include allowing sports betting in the state. However, it would introduce a statewide lottery in Alabama, with all proceeds going towards special supplemental Education Trust Fund appropriation.

In addition to a statewide lottery, the bills would also allow for certain electronic games to be added at seven venues across the states, which includes bingo halls in Greene, Houston, and Lowndes counties, as well as racetracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobile counties.

HB 151 key features

Just hours after these tweaked versions were approved, they were introduced to the House, and representatives successfully passed HB 151. This bill, which authorizes a state lottery and certain types of electronic gaming, passed with a 72-29 vote.

Some of the key features of HB 151 include:

  • Authorizes the Alabama Education Lottery.
  • Authorizes electronic games of chance at seven locations, which will be taxed between 20-28%.
  • Requires the governor to enter into compact negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians limited to in-person activities on lands held in trust prior to February 6, 2024.
  • Repeals local bingo Constitutional Amendments effective September 30, 2026. Until that repeal, the Alabama Gambling Commission has authority over them.
  • Prohibits future local gambling Constitutional Amendments.

HB 152 key features

Up next is HB 152, which enables legislation that creates the Alabama Gambling Commission and Alabama Lottery Corporation and lays out the groundwork for gaming licensing moving forward. This passed 70-29.

Some of the key features of HB 152 include:

  • The establishment of the Alabama Gambling Commission under the Senate-passed structure.
  • License structure for seven electronic gambling locations.
  • Senate-passed criminal law enhancements.
  • The establishment of the Alabama Lottery Corporation under the House-passed structure.
  • All lottery proceeds will benefit education through last-dollar scholarships to two- and four-year higher education institutions, dual enrollment, and retiree bonuses, which will be subject to annual appropriation.

A proud moment

After the House approved both bills, it was a proud moment for the legislatures. House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter said:

I'm proud that the House and Senate conferees were successful in finding a compromise on this very important issue. The legislation passed in the House today cracks down on illegal gambling by implementing strong, clear, and enforceable laws. It ensures all lottery proceeds, which are projected to exceed $300 million annually, benefit education and education only. Most importantly, it allows the people of Alabama to vote on this issue for the first time in 25 years.

The Senate didn't follow suit

While Ledbetter was proud, it didn't last long. The Senate convened late Tuesday night, and they needed the approval of 21 of the Senate's 35 members to pass. However, the vote for HB 151 fell just short, with a final vote of 20-15.

However, after the vote, there was a moment of confusion on the Senate floor. Things got chaotic and quite loud, but they voted to carry the bill over. Because of that, it is unclear where both bills' futures currently stand.

Update - Alabama lawmakers fail again

In one final chance to get legislation approved and to the voters of Alabama, lawmakers failed again at bringing the lottery to the state.

On May 9, the legislative session came to an end as lawmakers in the Alabama Senate weren't able to break an impasse after it failed by one vote earlier in the session after the House approved the bill. On the session's final day, there was hope of it being brought up again and passing, but the Senate didn't even take the bill up again, ending hopes of getting the issue before voters later this year.

Republican House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter said:

There was a lot of effort to try to make it work. I think the people want a chance to vote. I hear that everywhere I go.

Even with the support of Gov. Kay Ivey, the bill wasn't able to get approved, continuing a 25-year stalemate on the issue of gambling.

Enjoy playing the Lottery, and please remember to play responsibly.


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