Alabama Lottery Effort to Resume Next Year, as Mega Millions Jackpot Reaches $810M

Alabama lottery efforts once again went unsuccessful in the state legislature this year. But with Mega Millions making headlines — the game’s draw tomorrow night featuring a jackpot worth an estimated $810 million — state lawmakers in Montgomery who want to allow Alabamans to participate in the popular interstate sweepstakes say their fight is not over.

The July 26, 2022, Mega Millions jackpot is an estimated $810 million. But for people in Alabama where lottery games remain illegal, the interstate jackpot can only be won by venturing into a nearby state where such sales are permitted. (Image: AP)

The Alabama Legislature adjourned in April with bills seeking to authorize commercial gaming being mothballed.

State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) introduced legislation this year seeking to create a state-run lottery and authorize as many as five tribal and commercial casinos. State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island) authorized a lottery-only measure in his chamber.

While both pieces of legislation found favor in committees — respectively the Senate Tourism Committee and House Economic Development and Tourism Committee — neither measure reached a floor vote prior to the legislature adjourning.

Albritton says being an election year made things difficult to convince lawmakers to get on board with ending Alabama’s decades-long opposition to gambling. Alabama is one of only five states without a lottery. Alabama additionally has no commercial casinos, and its tribal casinos are Class II gaming establishments that can only operate bingo-based gaming — not traditional slot machines, table games, or sports betting.

2023 Renewal

Speaking last week with CBS 42 in Montgomery, Albritton says he will bring up the lottery and gaming effort again next year when the legislature convenes in March 2023. The Republican is hopeful that being a non-election year will bring more state lawmakers into an agreement that Alabama should allow residents to participate in lottery games and gamble on slots, tables, and sports.

I think there’s a recognition that there’s a need that Alabama take control of this industry. The requirement that Alabama needs to benefit from the gaming that’s already going on,” Albritton said.

Albritton says many Alabamans are already playing the lottery by routinely traveling to neighboring states such as Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The state politician says other forms of gambling can be accessed online through unregulated — and therefore technically illegal — means.

Steve Flowers, a respected political analyst in Alabama, says the first year following an election is when controversial issues such as gaming have the best odds of passing.

“The first year of the four-year term is when things like this are addressed, so that’s what makes it more likely this will be the year,” Flowers said.

Mega Millions Moolah

Mega Millions tomorrow night has an estimated $810 million jackpot. But Alabamans can only play by venturing into a neighboring state that participates in the interstate lottery game.

At $810 million, the jackpot is the third-largest in Mega Millions history. The game’s record jackpot came in October 2018 when a lucky person in South Carolina claimed a more than $1.537 billion prize.

Tomorrow’s jackpot is also the fourth-largest lottery prize in US history. The all-time richest lottery jackpot was hit in January 2016 when three tickets split a $1.586 billion prize playing Powerball.

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