- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A Senate committee on Thursday delayed a vote on a lottery bill, likely killing the proposal for the ongoing special session.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee debated the bill but did not vote.

The proposal by Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, would have Alabama join Powerball, Mega Millions and other multistate lotteries. The Republican senator said a lottery should be an option instead of taxes to raise money for the state’s general fund budget.

Alabama voters would have to approve a lottery in a statewide referendum because the 1901 Alabama Constitution bans gambling.

The proposal ran into opposition from senators who want the state to authorize casinos along with a state lottery.

“I want to be able to vote on a package that’s going to bring jobs, opportunities,” said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh is expected to introduce the casino and lottery legislation in the 2016 regular session that begins in February. Marsh, R-Anniston, did not introduce the bill in the special session that is focused on finding revenue for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1

Sanford said he saw the “handwriting” that his bill was likely dead for the session.

“The challenge for those people who want full-blown gaming, is it’s easier to sell gaming if you tie it to a vote of a lottery. I have just a lottery vote and that makes it harder to get a gaming vote later,” Sanford said.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has asked the Alabama Supreme Court to weigh in on whether creating a lottery would automatically allow casinos in the state.

The governor in a Sept. 9 letter to court justices asked if changing the Alabama Constitution to allow a lottery would “result in removal of the existing general ban on gambling or gaming activities in the state and thus result in legalizing class III or other casino style gaming in the state, with or without further legislative act?”

Bentley has said he supports the right of people to vote on gambling proposals, but does not think that gambling is a solution to the state’s immediate budget shortfall. However, the governor said last week that he believes there is more support for a lottery vote, than casinos.

“I think there is probably more of an appetite across this state- in fact I know there is - for voting on the lottery than there is on casino gambling - We’ll just see. I’m not sure they have the votes to do either one,” Bentley said last week.

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