Alabama Lottery Pushed by Governor Robert Bentley as State Needs Cash Fast

Posted on: July 28, 2016, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: July 28, 2016, 02:14h.

Alabama lottery Governor Robert Bentley
Governor Robert Bentley is calling on lawmakers to allow voters to determine this fall if the state should implement an Alabama lottery. (Image: Office of Gov. Robert Bentley)

The Alabama lottery debate has been reunited by Governor Robert Bentley (R). Appearing in a video message posted to his official government website, Bentley tried to appeal to voters by explaining that the state’s expenditures override its revenues.

The Cotton State is one of just six states that does not offer a lottery to its residents. Alabama also doesn’t participate in the interstate Powerball or Mega Millions lotteries.

“We must once and for all solve problems that have held our state back for decades,” Bentley said. “The state of Alabama has not and cannot at this time pay for the most basic services that we must provide to our people.”

“We have not solved our budget crisis yet. Now, I am giving you, our people, the opportunity to fix this. I’m giving you the right to vote on a lottery,” Bentley concluded.

Tapped Out

Currently in his second term, the governor says he’s reduced the size of government, cut spending, and allowed the private sector to take over Medicaid, but it’s still not enough. Bentley also pointed fingers at the Republican-controlled legislature for failing to come to terms on finding ways to increase revenue.

Authorizing a state-run lottery is the obvious solution for Bentley.

Millions of Alabamians regularly play the lottery in neighboring states. Though Mississippi doesn’t have a lottery, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee do.

“It’s time we stop supporting other states’ budgets, and keep our money at home to solve our own problems,” Bentley opined.

Not everyone is on board with the money grab.

“There’s the morality aspect of it, but one of my biggest arguments is that it’s a failed government policy,” Alabama Citizens Action Program Executive Director Joe Godfrey told the New York Times.

Alabama is smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, and upwards of 90 percent of residents identify as Christians. Adding a lottery, seen by opponents as preying on the elderly and poor, might not have the required support the governor hopes.

Bentley is expected to soon call a special session of the state legislature for lawmakers to approve the ballot question for the November elections. The deadline to add a state constitutional amendment to the fall election is August 24.

Alternative Motives

Some in Montgomery believe Bentley isn’t really all that interested in bringing an Alabama lottery to the state. His anti-casino gambling position hasn’t changed.

Instead, certain politicians think Bentley might simply be craftily deflecting attention from his scandalous relationship with a top aide that is currently dominating local headlines.

Divorced since 2015, Bentley exchanged a series of flirtatious texts with a female advisor in March. He apologized for his behavior, but denied having sexual relations with the staffer.

Regardless, the state government considered impeachment, but no formal proceedings to oust Bentley from office occurred.

The adjourned Alabama legislature could renew impeachment motions when it reconvenes in February of 2017. Lawmakers could also contemplate the issue when Bentley brings them back in the coming weeks to mull the lottery ballot provision.