- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A Senate committee on Wednesday debated, but did not vote, on a proposal to have Alabama join multi-state lottery games like Mega-Millions and Powerball.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee discussed the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Trip Pittman of Montrose. The committee could vote on the bill sometime next week.

The bill is an alternative proposal to other lottery bills that have stalled because of a lack of consensus over the details.

Pittman said Wednesday that limiting gambling to multi-state lottery games instead of creating its own lottery scheme would keep the state’s overhead and participation at a minimum while still generating revenue for the general fund. The Legislative Fiscal Office estimated the plan could bring in $53 million annually.

The bill prohibits any other form of gambling in the state.

In 2015, Pittman said “gambling is for losers” when he voted against a state lottery and casino bill. But he now thinks Alabamians want the chance to vote on the issue.

Pittman said he still doesn’t like the lottery, but he can support participation in multi-state lottery games over a state lottery system.

“This is the only thing I can get comfortable with,” Pittman said. “It’s a small step, but it’s a positive step: not morally, but in terms of revenue.”

Gambling opponent Joe Godfrey urged the committee to remember that money generated by lottery ticket sales comes from families’ pockets.

“This compromise, a small lottery, is still taking money out of people’s pockets,” Godfrey said. “The money spent on lottery tickets is not spent on goods and services.”

If approved by lawmakers, voters would have the final say on whether lottery ticket sales will be allowed in the state. Pittman’s current proposal does not have an election date, but he said Wednesday he could bring legislation to set one.

Forty-four states have lotteries. Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska do not.

Alabamians in 1999 voted down a lottery proposed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman.

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