MONTGOMERY — The Senate was one vote short of passing a lottery and gambling constitutional amendment on Tuesday.

The Senate vote failed by a 20-15 margin in a late-night vote after the House passed the constitutional amendment earlier on Tuesday night. It needed 21 votes to pass due to constitutional amendments requiring a 60% threshold in each chamber. However, a vote on the amendment could be called again in the Senate as early as Thursday since a majority of members voted in favor of adopting the conference report passed by a committee on Tuesday.

“If you adopt the conference committee report with less than 21 votes you have to vote twice on the (constitutional amendment). A conference committee report is not a constitutional provision, it only requires a majority vote,” Senate Secretary Pat Harris told reporters after the Senate adjourned on Tuesday night.

The constitutional amendment and enabling legislation would legalize seven “electronic gaming facilities” across the state, establish a lottery, and requires the Governor to enter into a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI).

The constitutional amendment prohibits all forms of gambling besides a state education lottery, electronic games of chance, traditional raffles, and traditional paper bingos. To become law, the constitutional amendment would have to be approved by 60% of the House and Senate. It would also have to be approved by a vote of the people on August 20, 2024.

The constitutional amendment would legalize so-called “electronic games of chance” at racetracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobile Counties and bingo hall locations in Greene, Houston, and Lowndes Counties.

The legislation defines “electronic games of chance” as electronic gambling machines, including, but not limited to, any slot machines as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 1171(a)(1), pachinko, video lottery terminals, and video poker; electronic bingo machines; and historical horse racing machines.

Sports betting isn’t included in the constitutional amendment or bills in the package, but could possibly be negotiated in the compact with PCI.

One of the Senators who flipped from a yes vote on the Senate’s gambling constitutional amendment in March to a no vote on Tuesday night was State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore).

Albritton told reporters, “This particular bill and the reports that have come in took some moves in areas that I was unable to influence to gain the room that I need along those lines to vote yes.”

“I’ve been fighting this battle for years. Sponsored them, voted for all the votes, all the things. This is an important item for the state and it’s important to me personally and it’s important to my constituents, i.e. PCI,” Albritton said.

Albritton continued, “The difficulty is PCI has always and we’ve always and traditionally had a means where we could have another site under a compact or some other growth pattern with PCI being involved in the growth of the industry, involved in the industry.”

“I think their biggest issue and talk to them about this is this particular bill puts significant restrictions on them which was not conducive for their approval,” Albritton said.

Senators who voted yes on the constitutional amendment on Tuesday were: State Sens. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road), Billy Beasley (D-Clayton), Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva), Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham), Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham), Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery), Jay Hovey (R-Auburn), Andrew Jones (R-Centre), Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro), Tim Melson (R-Florence), Randy Price (R-Opelika), Greg Reed (R-Jasper), David Sessions (R-Grand Bay), Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), Robert Stewart (D-Selma), and Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills).

Senators who voted against the constitutional amendment on Tuesday were: State Sens. Albritton, Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), Lance Bell (R-Pell City), Tom Butler (R-Madison), Josh Carnley (R-Ino), Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville), Keith Kelley (R-Anniston), Wes Kitchens (R-Arab), Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook), Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville), Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia), April Weaver (R-Brierfield), and Jack Williams (R-Wilmer).

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