Tears and Laughter: Now is the time for a Alabama Lottery
April 1, 2019 | View PDF
Few of us knew before the new gas tax that the Alabama Legislature was capable of moving any bill through both houses and having it signed by the Governor in one week. Governor Ivey announced it on the Tuesday night she delivered the State of the State address, and the next Tuesday she signed that baby into law with people standing around protesting.
Governor Ivey has said in the past that she would like to give the people of Alabama the chance to vote on a lottery. Senator Jim McClendon (R) has filed an amendment that will allow just that.
It is past time, because personally I blame the four recent lightweight earthquakes around the Flomaton and Florida line to have been caused – in part – by all the extra traffic from Alabama hitting all the potholes on their way to Century, Florida to buy lottery tickets. Powerball is up.
I may buy a ticket or ten, but I don’t play Powerball in a meaningful way. The Mega Millions and Florida Lotto doesn’t draw me. I like the nightly Fantasy Five well enough, but…I consider the Pick 5 serious business. It is one of the daily lotteries. Players can pick 2, 3, 4, or 5 They have lower payouts, but better odds, and you can play twice a day. Which I do. Like many, many other Alabamians do too.
If you are in the Black Belt or southwest Alabama, you may go to “Atmore.” Everybody says they go to Atmore, but they are really going to McDavid, Florida. There is little divide between the two. Only a Florida state sign separates them. But Alabama doesn’t get any of that money. It all goes to help educate the children of Florida. It helps build them better schools and pays for community college so their young adults can get a skill and make a living.
Alabamians will be going to Florida in droves this week because again, Powerball is always growing. People in other regions go to Georgia and
Tennessee with the same enthusiasm. And most folks who make the drive are also going to eat, some are going so far as to fill up their car with gas, and since Florida doesn’t have a tax on groceries, some people choose to save a little that way too. They spend that savings on lottery tickets.
A lot has changed since 1999 when voters were last given the chance to vote on a lottery. The referendum failed in a 54-46 percent vote.
Legislators have admitted that part of their hesitation in pushing forward with an Alabama Lottery has been an uncertainty as to what to do with the proceeds. As dumb as some of us are, and they aren’t sure what to do with revenue from a lottery. Even 20 years ago it was estimated that a lottery would generate at least $150 million a year.
Alabama wants a lottery and we do not want a lukewarm, watered-down, PG version of the lottery. We want more than Powerball, we want the freedom of choosing from the entire lottery menu.
Alabama welcomed 180 new hemp farmers to our agricultural community last month. They will join all the other farmers and ranchers already gambling.
There is no reason for the legislature not to give the people of Alabama the chance to vote on a lottery.
And now that we know how quickly and efficiently they can work in harmony together, it shouldn’t take any more than seven days to get those lottery balls going.
Amanda Walker is a contributor with AL.com, The Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette. Contact her at Walkerworld77@msn.com or at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.