Earlier this year, during the legislative session, State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger's Island) offered a "clean lottery bill," which at the time he said was no outside gaming but just a lottery.
Near the end of the session, the respective caucuses rejected his and a competing so-called comprehensive effort in the upper chamber led by State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore).
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5 on Tuesday, Brown said a renewed effort in the new quadrennium was possible. However, he was noncommittal, given the make-up of the future legislature has yet to be determined at the ballot box.
"You have to hope that the first year of a quadrennium – you have new faces, you have a new effort," Brown said. "But, to be ... honest with you, Jeff, I don't really know the new people. So, I don't know from that standpoint. I'm a believer in giving the people a right to vote on a lottery. We live in a county that borders Mississippi, where they have a lottery. We're a few minutes away from Florida, where they've had the lottery since the 1980s. People in Alabama have been playing lottery for years. We've just been playing it in other states."
The Mobile County lawmaker said he was not sure if he would be the one to introduce a lottery bill again next year.
One of the hangups for lawmakers on a constitutional amendment paving the way for a lottery is the votes required. For an amendment to be put on the ballot, it requires a three-fifths supermajority from both chambers of the legislature.
Despite Republicans having supermajorities in both chambers during the last quadrennium, some Republican members are stridently opposed to any form of gaming. In the past, that has required Republican lawmakers promoting gambling to seek votes from Democrat colleagues.
Democrats have asked for other accommodations, including Medicaid expansion or legitimizing gaming deemed as illegal by the Alabama Supreme Court in Greene and Macon Counties, in exchange for their vote.
Brown insists those hurdles could be overcome, and a lottery vote could be isolated from other efforts to legalize or legitimize other forms of gaming.
"[I] think you can separate the two issues," Brown added. "There was a lot of support to do that in the House, and I think you should separate the two issues. I think they should be two separate things. You should be able to vote on if you want to have a lottery, then you have a separate vote on whether you want to have sports betting or casino gaming."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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