Alabama seems poised to finally vote on a lottery again. And veteran observers believe it could pass statewide this time.

State Sen. Dale Marsh (R-Anniston), president pro tem of the Senate and the person who normally decides the order of business in the upper chamber, says he wants a vote on a lottery bill this week — essentially before the Legislature goes home today.

The Senate has before it two lottery measures. One, considered most likely to pass, is sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) and would allow a traditional paper ticket lottery. The other, by Sen. Jim McLendon (R-Springville), would also allow electronic gambling at state dog tracks.

Because gambling is prohibited under the Alabama Constitution of 1901, the bill must be approved by the Legislature and the public in a popular vote to become law. But it does not require signature of the governor.

Albritton’s bill, if sent to the voters in a referendum, would re-ignite the whole debate about electronic gambling and likely kill the measure.

Each state which borders Alabama — Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi — now have lotteries. Indeed, Alabama is one of about a half-dozen states without a lottery. And many states participate in the “Powerball,” which sometimes grows to hundreds of millions of dollars before the winning numbers are drawn.

Powerball is a multi-state combine and normally when it has grown appreciatively cars will be backed up hundreds of yards at stores selling lottery tickets just across the lines in other states.

The fact that the revenue is going to other states is driving this conservative Legislature to consider ever the least egregious form of gambling as a source of revenue.

The Alabama Legislative Reference service estimates that a paper lottery would produce about $166 million annually,

I have never thought gambling was a very good way to fund government. Invariably, those who can least afford it are the ones throwing their money away against multi-million odds.

But then who am I to tell them what to do with their money? Or that they have little or no chance to win?

Everyone of the 200 or 300 million Powerball participants believes he/she has the winning numbers. And if they derive pleasure from throwing away a dollar or two, so be it.

Next thing you know someone will be saying that wrestling is not real! 

Retired Auburn attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Email him your comments about the newspaper to doneddins@auburnlaw.us

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