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Lottery bill in Alabama moves to full house

Alabama Education Lottery House Bill (WBMA){p}{/p}
Alabama Education Lottery House Bill (WBMA)

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Alabama lawmakers won't be back in Montgomery until March 29th after a week off for spring break. When they return each house has a separate plan of attack to get a lottery bill before the voters.

This house bill would allow people to purchase scratch off tickets, play Powerball and Mega Millions in the state of Alabama.

House Bills 501 and 502 would establish a fund to support education through lottery.

Republican Representative Chip Brown is the bill's sponsor.

“Hopefully they do pass this so we can have better funding for education too," said resident Donald Lanning.

Thursday, the House Tourism and Economic Development Committee approved the proposal. The next step is for these bills to move to the full house.

See Also: Alabama House committee advances lottery bill

See Also: Man finds forgotten lottery ticket from Christmas, wins $8.9M

Some people drive across state lines to gamble since it's not legal in Alabama.

“People are driving to Mississippi just to get the lotto," said resident Robert Gibbons.

Caroline Zuhn drives out of state to play the lottery and said it would be more convenient to be able to play in Alabama.

“Just go down to the corner store, while you’re getting gas you can get your ticket and don’t have to fill up twice," she said.

If this bill were to pass and voters would approve it, a fund to support education in the state would be established.

However, not everyone believes that will be the case.

"It's peanuts," said Joe Godfrey, the president and CEO of Alabama Citizens Action Program. "That will not help. But if it's pulling money out of the economy, sales tax revenue goes down. The education trust fund budget gets 4 cents of every sales tax dollars, that means that money will deplete, it is going to drop. So it's just a bait and switch. It just doesn't work. It's a failed policy."

Godfrey said people are looking at it as a convenience and fun activity to do.

He also said, "a lot of poor people buy these tickets thinking it’s their ticket out of poverty.”

"It's like Robin Hood in reverse. They are taking form the poor to give to the rich. The wealthy are the ones who kids are high achievers typically and will likely go to college and will benefit from whatever scholarships," said Godfrey.

Seven legislative days remain in this regular session.

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Gambling legislation that would allow a lottery and eight casinos with table games right now is stalled in the Alabama senate.

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