Alabama lawmakers ended their 2021 legislative session on Monday without making a vote on the Alabama gambling bill.
The session winded down on Monday without the House voting on the Senate-passed lottery and casino bill. House Leaders led by House Speaker Mac McCutcheon did not bring up the Alabama gambling bill for discussion during a busy final legislative day after negotiations fell apart in previous weeks.
Bills passed included the budgets, a bill to allow medical marijuana, and a bill that allows wine to be shipped at your home. The Alabama gambling bill was the only bill the lawmakers could not agree upon.
Said bill sponsor Sen. Jim McClendon:
“I’m quite disappointed. It was a lot of work, but so much for that this session,”
Trying a New Approach
Alabamians have not had the chance to vote on a lottery since rejecting the 1999 Education Lottery of then Gov. Don Siegelman. Lawmakers propose a lottery bill year after year but for two decades, the efforts failed amid turf wars and battles involving casino gambling.
This year, the proponents tried a new approach that was backed by Gov. Kaye Ivey. Aside from The Lottery, the proposed Alabama gambling bill called for nine casinos, sports betting, and state-wide regulation of gambling for the first time.
Could Not Find a Common Ground
The Republican sponsored Alabama gambling bill passed the Senate on April 13th. It needed the support of the minority Democratic caucus to have the chance to get to the required three-fifths vote. It was on the House Calendar for May 6th, the 29th day of the 30-day session. But Republicans and Democrats could not find enough common ground despite hours of heavy negotiations.
Democrats said no the the plan of shutting down electronic bingo facilities in Greene and Lowndes counties and demanded a clearer language that would include jobs and business participation for blacks. Meanwhile, Republicans resisted the idea of using casino revenues to expand Medicaid.