n Monday, a public hearing was held by Alabama lawmakers on a bill to establish a lottery, part of a larger gambling package that could pass or fail in the final days of the legislative session.
Versions of bills that passed the Senate three weeks ago are considering revised by the House of Representatives, some of the significant elements are unaltered. A lottery, six new casinos, and sports betting would be authorized and encourage negotiations for a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, according to Alabama.com.
Three meeting days are left in the Legislators annual session to pass or reject the package that would provide statewide regulation of gambling for the first time. It would be up to voters to approve the plan in a constitutional amendment if it passes the Legislature.
The Senate approved the legislation on April 13. At yesterday´s public hearing, the House Ways and Means Committee discussed a new version of the lottery bill. The committee meets again Tuesday and could adopt the new bill and set it up for consideration by the House on Thursday.
Two other House committees will discuss the other two bills in the gambling package, also on Tuesday; they are the constitutional amendment and a bill to set up a statewide regulation of gambling. Both are different than what the Senate passed.
Yesterday, a new version of the constitutional amendment was considered by the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee. The House State Government Committee will consider a new version of the regulatory bill.
The Committee´s approval of those two bills would also put them in position for consideration by the House. Legislators will meet on Tuesday, Thursday, and May 17, unless the schedule changes.
The lottery bill by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, called the Alabama Education Lottery Act, would pledge the net revenue to education. Under the version that passed the Senate, 50% would go to a college scholarship program with an emphasis on in-demand fields. Fifty percent would go to the Education Trust Fund, with 70% of that for K-12 and 30% for higher education.
However, the new version discussed in committee yesterday changed the distribution to put all the net revenue into scholarship programs for two-year and four-year college students, as well as a program to help college graduates repay student loans if they stay and work in Alabama.
Intrastate games, along with multi-state games such as Pick-3, Pick-4, Mega Millions, and Powerball, as well as instant games would still be included in Lottery games.
The Legislative Services Agency estimated a lottery would raise about $200 million to $280 million a year. The entire gambling package is projected to raise about $500 million to $700 million a year for state programs, including the expansion of high-speed internet access, health care, mental health care, and others.