MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama lawmakers are still working on a bill that would create a lottery and expand gambling. The legislation is expected to take center stage next week in the Senate with a vote possible on Tuesday.
But bill sponsor Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, says more details need to be hashed out before then. Marsh has begun talking with House lawmakers about what they want to see in the legislation.
The senator believes more Republicans support casino gaming now than in the past.
“I think the people today, the voters today, 20 years later, I think are much more open,” Marsh explained.
But lawmakers still need to hash out the details, including just how many casinos should be allowed. Marsh says there could be eight or ten casinos, including those owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Other lawmakers don’t want any.
“I’m opposed to the casino aspect of it,” said Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville. “Lottery? Completely fine with. I think Alabamians want to vote on a lottery. I do not think we’re ready for casino gaming yet.”
“There’s no doubt that the lottery is more popular,” Marsh stated, “but the gaming was actually more popular than I expected in the polling data.”
And there are also still debates over where the lottery and casino tax revenues would go. According to Marsh, some could go to rural hospitals, mental health, or even scholarships.
Marsh says he has the votes to pass the legislation out of the Senate.
“I think we will truly have, once again, a document that finally has controls on gaming in the state of Alabama,” he explained.
Even though they are trying to work on the details now, lawmakers anticipate a hardy debate on the floor. If it passes there, it will head to the House for more consideration.
If lawmakers in both chambers approve it, it will head to the ballot where Alabamians will have a chance to vote on it