Lottery bill introduced with excellent chance for House approval

Representative Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) unveiled his lottery plan January 27, 2020 during an address to the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce. (Source: WTVY)
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Montgomery (WTVY)-- An Alabama lawmaker delivered on his promise to file a lottery bill, though the governor had hoped he wouldn't do so. Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) introduced his bill on Tuesday afternoon with 70 House co-sponsors.

Assuming all of those co-sponsors vote for that proposal, Clouse's lottery bill has sufficient support to pass the House, where 63 of 105 votes are needed for a constitutional amendment.

His plan would fund the state's pre-k program, provide scholarships, and also fund technical training, among other things. None of the money----estimated at $167-million annually---would go to the general fund.

Clouse unveiled his plan in Dothan on January 27. A week later, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said she would form a gambling study group.

She hoped lawmakers would put lottery and other gaming legislation on hold until that panel concludes its work later this year.

Clouse refused to stand down, believing this might be the ideal year to pass a lottery. All bordering states have state operated lotteries after Mississippi began offering games a few weeks ago.

While it appears Clouse's bill will pass the House, it could encounter resistance in the Senate. Lawmakers in the upper chamber may insist on video lottery terminals, gadgets that resemble slot machines. Clouse's is a paper only bill.

If his measure ultimately is approved, voters would have the final say during a November referendum. Polls indicate a state lottery would pass by an overwhelming margin.

Because this is a constitutional amendment, it requires no approval from the governor.

Other gambling bills will be also be considered, including one that would give exclusive gaming rights to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The tribe already operates three Wind Creek Casinos and want to build two others.