“It’s black and white,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden). “If he is going to call us into a special session, you’re going to choose taxes or you’re going to choose gaming.”
State lotteries provide millions of dollars in revenue for neighboring states, though exactly how much revenue varies. Florida and Georgia saw their lotteries bring in $1.4 billion and $928 million, respectively, in 2013. Arkansas was on the opposite end bringing in only $87 million.
Governor Bentley is against a state lottery calling it “a tax on the poor.” He says the General Fund and gambling are separate issues and that gambling would not provide immediate cash for the state.
“It is not the solution though, and that’s a pretty sad and a pretty sorry way to fund government,” Bentley explained. “You have to advertise. We have to spend money as a state to advertise to get people to gamble, and that’s pretty sorry,” the governor stated.
If the governor does not include a gambling measure in his call, it will be hard to bring up during the special session. With that being said, he will not be able to prevent it from being brought up next session. If it’s passed by lawmakers then, the legislation will go straight to the People to approve or vote down.
The governor added, “if people want to gamble their money away, I’m fine. If they make their own money and want to throw their money away, I don’t have any problem with that. I’m not going to do it.” But the governor admitted if a lottery were put before the voters, it would probably be approved.
There is no word yet when the upcoming special session will take place.
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