Democrats Push Again For Lottery on the Ballot, Will Voters Agree?


By Heather VacLav

When Democratic lawmakers unveiled their agenda, it once again included a state lottery. But will this attempt be successful with voters?

In 1999 voters rejected former Governor Don Siegelman's lottery proposal on the ballot. This new plan is similar, but a little different. Alabama Democrats want to set up a state lottery to pay for college scholarships, classroom supplies, and also to put a trained police officer to protect every public school.

Local convenience store owners, like Rajiv Sharma, who owns Raceway on Eastern Boulevard near I-85, say the lottery will boost business and traffic at their business.

"People traveling from Florida, Georgia and others ask us what's the lotto, what's today's number and do you or don't you sell lottery? So we tell them unfortunately we don't," Sharma said.

In fact, Friday, several out of state license plates rolled into Raceway.

"I like the lottery because of the amount of work they actually give back to the school system in Florida," said Nicole Turcotte of Orlando, Florida.  "They get a lot of the library systems, computer systems, and everything else like that from it."

If a bill passes to allow voters to choose, House Democrats say the lottery would bring in about $250 million dollars every year.
Even though not everyone may agree with having a physical lottery, some say the good outweighs the bad.

"At some point, where do you break the line on morality here?" questioned James Bodiford. "We all gamble at certain points, I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying we should capture the money in our own state."
Including Alabama, there are only seven states in the country without some type of lottery, so voters may have the chance to change it one way or the other.

This lottery, though, will be an uphill battle for Democrats in a Republican controlled legislature. Many Republicans have told Alabama News Network before that they do not support a lottery in Alabama. Some say if voters want a lottery, they should make their voices heard when they choose who represents them during elections.

The first $25 million of the expected lottery money would be used to fund the resource officers, the rest would go towards college scholarships for students with A-B averages and help supply public schools' classrooms.

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