Alabama House committee passes gambling bills

An Alabama House committee has passed two gambling bills. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 12:55 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2022 at 6:33 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - With a lucky vote, two gambling bills made it through a House committee Thursday morning. Last year, gambling legislation failed to pass on the House floor, but the sponsor says his bills may be easier for representatives to digest.

The biggest difference is that the House bills are strictly a paper lottery. There is no electronic or casino-style gaming included in the legislation.

“The people of Alabama have been playing the lottery for years,” said Rep. Chip Brown, sponsor of HB 501 and HB 201. “They’ve just been playing in other states.”

With Brown’s bills, it would bring those games to Alabama.

“It creates the Alabama education lottery commission and the commission will supervise and regulate a state lottery,” said Brown.

Brown’s bill is different than the versions in the senate because casino-style games are not included. Funding for retired educators and Future Farmers of America, along with education scholarships are included in both bills.

This was a selling point for most representatives.

“Crenshaw County is a poor county, really poor. But their school looks 10 times better than the one in Eufaula because they got money from the lottery,” said Rep. Berry Forte.

Some legislators are concerned about how scholarships will be determined.

“Would equity be a part of the vision of how these scholarship funds are divided?” questioned Rep. Neil Rafferty.

In the current bill, scholarships are divided equally. Other opposition say churches are against gambling legislation because of gambling addiction.

“They know they’ll be the ones paying the power bills and picking up the pieces when it doesn’t go all nice and clean for their family because of problem gambling,” said Greg Davis from Alabama Citizens Action Program.

To address this issue, a $500,000 problem gaming fund will be established before anything else is funded. The sponsor says all of this is to make the bill easier to pass on the House floor.

The bills now move to the full House of Representatives.

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