- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A state senator said Tuesday that he is introducing a rival lottery bill - in addition to one he is carrying for the governor - that would allow electronic lottery terminals at state dog tracks.

Lawmakers on Monday are set to begin a special session called by Gov. Robert Bentley to debate lottery legislation. Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, said he will carry a bill backed by Bentley that would only authorize a lottery. At a news conference Tuesday, McClendon unveiled details of a second bill that would include the electronic games.

“I want to get the lottery issue before the people. Let them vote and make the decision,” McClendon said.

McClendon said he came up with the second proposal after talking with senators about what it would take to get lottery legislation through the Alabama Senate.

Electronic lottery terminals are a type of touchscreen gambling machine that can be made to resemble slot machines or other electronic gambling devices. The proposal comes as some legislators have said they will fight lottery legislation unless something is done to help dog tracks where electronic bingo operations have been shut down by the state.

The bill, in addition to authorizing a state lottery, would allow the video terminals at dog tracks in Birmingham, Mobile, Macon County and Greene County. It also would authorize the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. McClendon said it could provide immediate money for the state’s cash-strapped Medicaid program by doing a bond issue that would be secured by expected lottery revenue.

McClendon estimated the second bill with the electronic terminals would bring in $427 million annually. He said $100 million would go to the state’s education budget the rest would go to the state’s general fund. Bentley has projected a lottery alone would raise $225 million.

The governor’s press office did not immediately return an email seeking comment. Bentley has previously said he wants to keep the proposal limited to a simple lottery. Bentley has said he thought a lottery was the best chance of getting additional money for the state’s general fund.

Alabama is one of six states - along with Mississippi, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada - without a state lottery. Voters in 1999 rejected then- Gov. Don Siegelman’s proposed lottery that came under heavy opposition from church groups and out-of-state gambling interests.

Alabama voters would have to approve any gambling proposal. The bills also face difficult legislative hurdles in the Alabama Legislature where some members flatly oppose gambling and others are expected to push to include casino gambling. Lottery legislation faltered in the last legislative session over disagreement over how the money should be used.

Since the Alabama Constitution bans most games of chance, three-fifths of legislators would have to approve the legislation and a majority of voters would have to approve changing the state constitution to allow a lottery.


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