The Mega Millions jackpot drawing tonight is $660 million, but Alabamians won’t have a shot at the prize without crossing state lines.
The next legislative session brings a new four-year term for lawmakers, and a new opportunity to pass a lottery bill.
“I hope so. I hope I can,” Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) said.
Albritton’s comprehensive gambling bill last session failed to pass. It would’ve legalized a lottery, established a limited number of casinos and created a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians.
Albritton says he hopes the next session is more successful.
“I’m doing all that I know to do. I’m still trying to work with House members and reach out to the governor’s office to find out where we are and to draw a consensus,” Albritton said.
Gov. Kay Ivey said earlier this year her biggest regret of last session was that lawmakers didn’t pass a gambling bill that would give voters the choice on the ballot.
Political analyst Steve Flowers predicts this next session could be the year since there’s no election looming.
“The reason it didn’t pass or be addressed this last year was because it was an election year. The first year of the four-year term is when things like this are addressed, so that’s what makes it more likely this will be the year,” Flowers said.
Though it won’t be an election year, Albritton says there will be other hurdles.
“There’s an argument to that effect, I’m not sure if that’ll have any bearing. We’ll have a lot of new people yes, and the education process not only on this but on other bills will be important for the newcomers to get a grasp of,” Albritton said.
Albritton says Alabama needs to regulate gambling and benefit from revenue that is currently going to other states.
“I think there’s a recognition that there’s a need that Alabama take control of this industry. The requirement that Alabama needs to benefit from the gaming that’s already going on,” Albritton said.
Alabama is one of just five states without a lottery. The legislative session will start on the first Tuesday in March 2023.