Speaking about the current plight, which sees Alabama face a shortfall of at least $200-300 million, Republican Governor Robert Bentley said: “We knew this day was going to come. We knew this crisis was going to take place, and it's here.”
Democrats have been pushing for lottery legislation in Alabama for many years and their plans have received a boost after Republican Steve Clouse, the chairman of the state’s General Fund Committee, added his name to the bill. “We're just looking at anything to raise funds,” said Clouse.
The sponsor of the bill is Democrat Craig Ford, who believes a lottery could make as much as €280 million a year for the state and go a long way to sorting out the budget problems. Bentley, though, has argued that a lottery wouldn’t bring in enough money and stated that it could take years for such a plan to be approved.
“Do I believe in the people's right to vote? Yes, I do. But we cannot depend on gambling to fund state government,” said Bentley, who has told state officials that there must be consequences if his tax proposals fail. “We cannot threaten without following through. And if we say that such and such has to be closed, if we don't have the money in October, it will be closed.”
Voters in Alabama rejected a proposal for a lottery in 1999, but it could be that they soon get another chance to have their say on the issue, with Ford insisting that too much money is being spent on lotteries in neighbouring states. The revenue that could be raised through sales of lottery tickets could be part of an overall solution to Alabama’s current financial woes, but only if residents give it the green light.