Alabama Lawmaker Wants Lottery, As Mega Millions Hits $810 Million

Alabama Lawmaker Wants Lottery, As Mega Millions Hits $810 Million
© USA Today

An Alabama lawmaker says he’ll try again next year to legalize a lottery in the state.

This comes as Alabama residents have had to drive into neighboring states to take a shot at the estimated $810 million Mega Millions jackpot up for grabs Tuesday.  

Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, said he’ll work with state House of Representatives members and the governor’s office to reach a consensus on gaming heading into the next legislative session, according to WDHN-TV. Alabama legislators next meet in March 2023.

During the 2022 session in Montgomery, Albritton’s bill to expand gaming, including a state-run lottery and as many as five casinos, stalled at the Legislature. Lawmakers adjourned in April without legalizing a lottery or approving any casinos.

Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, has supported giving Alabama residents a vote on statewide gaming expansion.

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Odds Improve After Election

Gaming legislation, which includes sports betting, might stand a better chance of winning approval in Alabama after the Nov. 8 election, political analyst Steve Flowers told the television station.

“The reason it didn’t pass or be addressed this last year was because it was an election year,” he said. “The first year of the four-year term is when things like this are addressed, so that’s what makes it more likely (2023) will be the year.”

Albritton noted Alabama residents already are gambling in nearby states where betting is legal, costing Alabama tax revenue for state programs.

“I think there’s a recognition that there’s a need that Alabama takes control of this industry,” he said.

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Gaming Legal In Neighboring States

Casino gambling and sports betting are legal is Alabama’s neighbor to the west, Mississippi. 

In Tennessee, which also shares a border with Alabama, mobile sports betting is legal. Tennessee does not have brick-and-mortar casinos or land-based sportsbooks

Right now, legal sports betting occurs in only four of 10 states with universities competing in the Southeastern Conference. These states are Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. Sports betting is legal in Florida but has been suspended in a court dispute.

Throughout the South, interest in football wagering is high, including college football betting

Two Alabama college teams, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers, compete in the SEC.  

Legislative efforts to expand gaming recently failed across the region, including in North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas. An effort to legalize off-site mobile sports betting failed this year in Mississippi.

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