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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama is one of six states that does not participate in the lottery, but that could soon change.
Gov. Robert Bentley called for a special session of the state legislature on Aug. 15 to explore letting voters decide on a statewide lottery. Revenue from the lottery would help close gaps in the general budget.
"As Alabamians, we are blessed to live in a truly great state. But for it to be the best it can be, we must solve financial problems that have held us back for decades," Bentley said in a video message on Friday.
The lottery is expected to generate $225 million a year. "After we have exhausted all other options, I believe this is our best chance to solve this problem," he said.
However, the governor stressed the move is not about the lottery, but about the residents of Alabama.
"I will not, as your governor and as a physician, watch as our most helpless and vulnerable people go without a doctor's care," Bentley explained. "I can't bear to think of the half-million children who, through no fault of their own, are born into poverty and have no way to get basic medical treatment they need to grow healthy and strong."
Currently, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah are the only states that don't participate in a multi-state lottery or have their own drawings.
In previous video message on July 27, Bentley explained that since taking office his administration "took on the task of right-sizing state government, cut wasteful spending and made your government more efficient."
According to the governor, the state has reformed Medicaid, shifting the responsibility to manage the program from government workers to private sector stakeholders — a move that will slow the growth in Medicaid spending and save the taxpayers millions of dollars.
However, he noted, "the time has come for us to find a permanent solution. This solution will provide funding that we can count on year after year, without ever having to raise your taxes or put one more band aide on our state's money problems."
Bentley explained he will present to the legislature "simple, clean and transparent legislation that creates a lottery with no other gambling included."
In addition, he will ask state lawmakers to create a statewide lottery commission to oversee and hold the lottery operations accountable, once it is up and running.
"As you know, most of our neighboring states have lotteries and Alabamians are some of their best customers," he said. "It's time we stop supporting other states' budgets and keep our money at home to solve our own problems."