Lawmakers set to begin special session on state lottery

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The Alabama Legislature is set to give a state lottery the first serious debate since 1999, but many lawmakers say the idea faces tough odds amid continuing disagreements over if, and how, to legalize gambling in the state.

Gov. Robert Bentley is calling lawmakers back to Montgomery on Monday to begin a special session focused on a proposed state lottery to generate money for the state’s Medicaid program. Lawmakers are also expected to debate how the state should use $1 billion the state will receive over the next two decades from oil spill settlement funds.

Bentley called a lottery the “only option that we have left” to get additional funds for the state’s Medicaid program.

“We tried everything else. The Legislature realizes we are not going to pass any more taxes, but they also realize we have a real problem in the general fund, especially dealing with Medicaid,” Bentley said during an interview with The Associated Press.

The governor said he was “reasonably optimistic” ahead of the session’s start, but some lawmakers were less so.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.