The Powerball jackpot brings many Alabamians across state lines

“We are losing somewhere north of $700 million a year to surrounding states,”
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 7:13 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - There’s a big Powerball jackpot, and folks from north Alabama are road-tripping to Tennessee to get their tickets. All while there’s another push to bring a lottery to Alabama.

”Alabama doesn’t have a lottery, and my dream is to win the Powerball,” said Vanessa Eckerson who drove from Florence to Fayetteville Friday.

The Alabama Track Owners Association spokesperson Robert Kennedy Jr. says passing a gaming and lottery bill is all in the hands of legislatures.

“We are losing somewhere north of $700 million a year to surrounding states. Our belief is that’s money that could be used within the state of Alabama to fund any of a number of our priorities,” said Kennedy.

A special legislative session focusing on prisons is set to start Monday. The Alabama Track Owners Association put out a commercial Thursday, urging people to tell their legislature to pass a gaming and lottery bill.

“While they could easily pass a gaming and lottery bill at the same time, there’s no plan to do so,” says the commercial.

Kennedy says lawmakers got close to passing a gaming and lottery bill before.

“The fact that we were able to get a bill out of the Senate and ultimately to the House, our belief is that we’re close enough to the finish line to complete the remaining work during a special session,” said Kennedy.

State Senator Arthur Orr says it’s not that simple.

“Just out of experience through the decades, it’s important to have a very finite controlled agenda and not get bogged down in insular issues or other issues or try to do too many things in a special session,” said Orr.

Orr says that gaming and the lottery is a complex issue and that the industry has factions.

“They don’t want to see a lottery bill passed until they get their situation solidified in our state constitution,” said Orr.

But, regardless of where these Alabamians are getting their tickets, they just want to get lucky.

“They need to get that in Alabama, for real. We’re bringing our money all the way across this line. Hey...I’m still trying to be a winner though!” said Huntsville resident Perry Crutcher.

It would take 2/3′s of the legislature to add gaming and lottery to the special agenda. Orr says he thinks that is unlikely to happen.

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