Alabama Moves One Step Forward Towards Casino Gambling
Alabama took a step towards gambling legislation this week as the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee voted 6 – 2 in favour of a proposal to hold a referendum on creating a state lottery and allowing casino gambling at four existing dog tracks.
The plan is being backed by Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. Marsh has said that it should be up to the people to vote on whether to amend the state constitution and legalise gambling.
Unsurprisingly the proposal received some objections from anti-gambling groups but many are viewing it as a way to jump-start the state’s economy and replenish funds. It was also pointed out that gambling already exists in the state at Indian bingo casinos that operate without competition.
The Legislative Fiscal Office has said that a lottery could generate up to $300 million each year for the state education budget and the four casinos would bring in a further $75 million for the state’s general fund. Lawmakers are currently in a special session to address a projected $200 million shortfall in the general fund budget.
Now the bill will move to the Senate floor where some Republicans are expected to oppose the gambling push. However, it is not certain that the gambling bill will come up for a vote this session.
Other proposals being put forward include having the state join a multi-state lottery such as the Powerball in place of creating casinos or a new state lottery. However, it is thought that this would fail to generate the same levels of returns as an independent lottery.