Proposed bill could bring lottery to Alabama

(WIAT) — With the Powerball jackpot reaching an all-time record of $700 million, more Alabamians are driving across state lines to get their hands on tickets. On Tuesday, a state lawmaker will introduce a bill that would allow the people to vote on their own lottery here.

Republican Jim McClendon of Springville says he’s introducing the bill after many calls from constituents who want to see a lottery here. Right now, McClendon says there’s no real way to know how much money from Alabama residents is going across state lines in the form of lottery ticket purchases.

“How much it is. I don’t know. No clue. We’re definitely losing money to Georgia, Tennessee, Florida. In fact, there are 44 states that have lotteries now,” McClendon said.

States do not keep track of the residencies of lottery ticket buyers, but Alabama’s neighbors Georgia and Tennessee have posted record lottery revenues in 2015. Much of that money funds schools. Florida, meanwhile, added $1.5 billion to its education coffers through the lottery last year.

We spoke to a few people who told us they are against the lottery, but did not want to go on camera. They cited religious and moral reasons for opposing gambling.

Other Alabama residents, though, say it’s time for a vote.

Everybody was driving over to Georgia, and they were spending their money there and not in Alabama. I’d rather it be spent in Alabama,” said Deborah Gargone, who lives in Springville.

McClendon says the exact details of his bill will be released at a Montgomery press conference at 10 A.M. Tuesday. For now, he says the main aim of the bill will be to give Alabamians the chance to choose the lottery–or not.

“Time is different from the last time Alabama had a vote on it, that was 15, 16 years ago, and I think the attitudes have changed. We’ll find out if this bill passes the legislature, we’ll find out what the attitude is of the people in Alabama,” McClendon said.

Copyright 2016 WIAT 42 News

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