It’s become a tradition; that as neighboring states see their lottery jackpots climb, Alabamians cross the border in droves to get lucky.
But, Rohit Patel who runs Zippy Mart in Tillman’s Corner can only imagine what it’s like to get that kind of business.
“As Alabama people are going to Florida, same way at least Mississippi would be coming here,” said Patel.
However, his hope may be closer to coming true, as Governor Robert Bentley has called a special session to discuss the lottery.
Under Bentley’s proposal lottery revenue would go to the general fund, which funds everything but education. He also calls for the creation of a commission to regulate it.
“At least our state money would stay in the state,” said Patel.
But before store operators like Patel can sell tickets alongside snacks and drinks. The measure would have to pass out of the special session and appear on a ballot and again pass.
Then if you look at Florida’s history, voters approved the lottery in 1986. The first ticket didn’t sell until 1988. Wyoming, the last state to get the lottery in 2013 took about a year to get online.
Lottery proposals have had support and opposition by lawmakers before on both sides. This time, however, the governor is endorsing it. State Representative Rusty Glover says he doesn’t support the bill but is open to discussions, though he says it’s going to be a hard sell.
“There’s like 4 of us that are against any kind of a lottery and the other 31 are in 4-5 different camps, and I don’t see them coming together on any one plan. I think myself and some of the others from Mobile, we’re really going to focus on the BP money, and bring it back here where it belongs in Mobile and Baldwin County. We’re going to work very hard; we came so close last year,” said Glover.
Patel says he has waited 20 years, and despite a crowded counter, he says a lottery machine will fit nicely.
Lawmakers will be returning to Montgomery for the special session on August 15th.
It’s unclear if this same measure would bring the Powerball to the state.