BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday night’s drawing has grown to $630 million, the seventh-largest in Powerball history.
In order for Alabamians to get their hands on that cash value of over $400 million, they have to road trip to neighboring states.
Alabama is one of the last remaining states without a lottery, but that could soon change. With the upcoming legislative session less than a week away, some lawmakers are pushing to bring a lottery to the state.
“When I see a Powerball at $600 million or whatever, other than figuring out how to get myself a ticket, I think about all the money and opportunity that we’re losing here,” said Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa.
England said he’s optimistic that there will be an attempt to get lottery and casino legislation introduced in the upcoming session, which starts Jan. 11.
“I think all the people are sitting around the table trying to figure out how to create whatever is necessary so we can all operate, and the state can benefit from it. I think they are working on it now,” he said.
Like many other lawmakers, England’s eyes are set on getting the measure before voters during the November election, but there are going to be some hurdles along the way.
“It’s not that easy either because our constitution would have to change, which means you would have to get a two-thirds vote to get it on the ballot and then after that, the people have to vote for it,” said Steve Flowers, political analyst for CBS 42 and a former Alabama representative.
In the late 1990s, voters rejected gambling. Over the last few decades, lawmakers have made several attempts to pass a gambling bill, but have fallen short.
“I don’t know if they will tackle the lottery issue in the regular session because it’s a political year and they don’t want to tackle anything controversial, either the governor or the legislature,” Flowers said.
“I’m an eternal optimist,” England said. “I think we will approach this session as, however naive this sounds, I think we have another opportunity to get it done.”