Failed Alabama Sports Betting Bill Is A Boon For GA Lottery Sales

Written By Nikhil Kalro on May 16, 2024
Alabama failure to pass lottery benefits Georgia

Georgia, which offers legal online lottery, is one beneficiary of Alabama’s latest failed legislative effort to introduce gambling into the state. Alabama remains one of just five states without lottery. But that doesn’t stop Alabamans from getting their hands on tickets.

Numerous Alabama residents travel across state lines to Georgia to purchase lotto tickets including Powerball and Mega Millions for a chance to win a massive payout. That is especially true in border towns.

Alabama’s Failed Gambling Bills

House Bill 151 was introduced to legalize the lottery in Alabama and approve seven casinos in the state. House Bill 152 aimed to establish a legal framework to distribute the proceeds from casinos to sectors including health care, road repairs, and drug courts. Lottery proceeds were earmarked for education.

The Senate stripped sports betting and casino gambling from the bills before they went up for a vote. The final version included Alabama lottery and would have needed voter approval in a special election in August. But it didn’t make it that far before the legislative session concluded on May 9.

The Alabama House voted 72 to 29 in favor of HB 151 and 70 to 29 in favor of HB 152. These bills, however, failed to make it past the Senate, where they needed 21 yes votes but received only 20.

Sen. Greg Albritton was one of 15 lawmakers who voted against HB 151.

“This has been a bloody battle this whole session,” Albritton said. “It’s affected us from the first day to the last. There are damaged relationships all up and down the line over this. [I’ve] got to have more support than what I have now.”

Georgia Lottery Profits From Cross-Border Travelers

The Georgia Lottery has benefited from scores of Alabama residents traveling to the Peach State to purchase lottery tickets. A WTVY story illustrated the important contribution to lottery proceeds coming from across state lines.

“We have some [lottery] customers, but few from Georgia,” said Barry Patel, owner of the Riverside Travel Center in Early County. “I’d say about 90% are from Alabama.”

The lottery made more than $5 billion in fiscal year 2022.

According to the Georgia Lottery website, the Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) transferred more than $1.5 billion to the Lottery for Education Account in fiscal year 2023, which equates to more than $4.2 million raised every day, on average, for Georgia HOPE, which describes itself as “a community-based provider of mental health, substance use, and family preservation services,” and pre-kindergarten programs.

According to LaFleur’s World Lottery Almanac, the Georgia Lottery is second in the nation in per capita returns to general fund accounts and beneficiaries, excluding states with video lottery terminal revenue.

“GLC has had success, in part, because it has flexibility to adjust prize payouts to meet consumer demand and to compete in a crowded retail marketplace. If the GLC were required to return a fixed percentage of lottery proceeds to the state, experience indicates the state risks declining lottery proceeds,” its website states.

The Georgia Lottery conducts its operations, including advertising and marketing, on just 1% of lottery revenues. According to the GLC website, “In fiscal year 2023, lottery retailers earned a 6% sales commission on each lottery ticket they sold. Major vendors that operate our gaming system and print instant games earn approximately 2% of revenues.”

Many states benefiting from lottery and other gambling expansion

Other southern states to get on board with lottery have also seen benefits.

After introducing the lottery in 2004, Tennessee has raised more than $6.2 billion in funds for purposes connected primarily to education. Mississippi, where the lottery has been active for only about four years, has raised more than $480 million for several sectors, including transportation.

And while Georgians can purchase their lotto tickets in-state, they still can’t bet on sports. Despite some movement on legalizing Georgia sports betting this year, the session ended without a vote on the bill.

Photo credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore

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Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro is a sports betting and online gambling writer who contributes content on regional sites. Kalro applies his interest in strategy and mathematics to sports writing and other gambling topics. Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. Among his specializations are soccer, football, basketball, tennis and esports betting.

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