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The Alabama State Senate has been experiencing a demise of a significant push to legalize various forms of gambling, including a state lottery. Despite the House of Representatives passing House Bills 151 and 152 with a substantial majority, the Senate did not approve the amended versions before the legislative session’s conclusion.

The proposed legislation aimed to legalize an education state lottery, electronic games of chance, raffles, and paper bingo at seven dog racing or bingo locations statewide. It would have also allowed residents to participate in national lotteries such as Mega Million and Powerball. However, tables, cards, dice, and live dealers would have remained prohibited.

The bills’ authors, Rep. Russell Blackshear and Sen. Greg Albritton, who also sponsored them in the Senate, were unable to break Alabama’s 25-year deadlock on . The last time Alabama voted on gaming, albeit unsuccessfully, was in 1999.

During a Senate test session, the two amended measures fell just one vote short of the required 21 for approval. A significant point of contention was the Senate amendments introduced in March. These amendments scaled back the bill, removing sports betting language, reducing the number of gaming venues involved, and altering the casino proposal to focus solely on racing.

Sen. Albritton, disillusioned by the exclusion of sports betting, ended up voting against the package. He expressed frustration over the state’s refusal to regulate the expanding sports gaming industry, much of which operates illegally and undercover. Albritton was also disappointed that the amended bill prevented the Poarch Creek Indians from entering a compact with the state.

The proposed legislation would have established the Alabama Gaming Commission to regulate approved forms of gambling. It also projected that a state lottery could generate annual net revenue of $305 million to $379 million, which would have been directed towards educational initiatives.

Rep. Barbara Drummond, who supported the bill in the House, expressed disappointment over the missed opportunity, especially given the bill fell short by just one vote. She highlighted the potential benefits of the bill, including healthcare for

The stalemate also frustrated those who believe there is widespread support for an educational lottery. Sen. Arthur Orr committed to pushing for a lottery bill in the next session that would give citizens the right to vote on the lottery without being hijacked by gambling interests wanting to expand gaming in the state.

However, Gov. Kay Ivey has stated she does not plan on calling a special session for the bill this year, leaving it in limbo until 2025. Despite this setback, Sen. Albritton remains optimistic about the future of gambling legislation, assuring that “the problem’s not going away. We’re getting closer.”

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