With the Alabama Legislature scheduled to convene next week, it’s somewhat surprising that there’s been little talk of efforts to expand gambling opportunities in the state. Every year it seems that the state faces budgetary challenges, and every year, legislation is proposed that would drum up money through one form of gambling or another. Many Alabamians oppose most forms of gambling, but the most palatable appears to be a state-run lottery.
On Monday, more than 200 people attending the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast took part in an informal survey on a variety of topics. Among them was a proposed lottery; 88 percent of respondents were all for it, and the overwhelming majority of those wanted the funds earmarked for education.
State Rep. Steve Clouse, who has represented the Wiregrass area admirably for many years, told the crowd he plans to introduce lottery legislation, and outlined his ideas about the division of proceeds in the educational realm. We urge him to work diligently to see this through.
We believe every Alabamian should encourage this effort whether they favor a lottery or not. The reason is that the state Legislature cannot approve any expansion of gambling. All it can do is determine a guideline for the distribution of funds it might generate, and then put the question before the people in a referendum. In other words, Alabama voters would approve or deny a lottery or other gambling measure. All lawmakers can do is give the public that opportunity, or deny it.
This question belongs to the voting public, which has a right to be heard. We urge lawmakers to craft a reasonable lottery bill and approve it, so that Alabama voters can decide the issue.