With just a few days left in the regular legislative session, a gambling expansion bill has been introduced into the Alabama Senate.
Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) introduced two bills on March 2, both outlining a plan to amend Alabama’s Constitution to create a state lottery and allow casinos at multiple locations in the state. Similar efforts to legalize gambling have failed in the past. In order to take effect, any such measure would have to pass through the Legislature and then be approved by voters statewide.
Senate Bill 293 proposes an amendment to establish a state lottery and allow casino-style games, sports betting, bingo and raffles.
Among other provisions, the bill calls for:
- Licensing of five casinos, one each at Greenetrack in Greene County; the Birmingham Race Course in Jefferson County; VictoryLand in Macon County; and the Mobile County Greyhound Racing facility in Mobile County
- A fifth licensed casino in either DeKalb or Jackson County as part of a compact to be negotiated between the governor and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate several casinos under federal law
- Two satellite casinos with electronic gambling machines, one in Houston County and one in Lowndes County
- Creation of the Alabama Education Lottery, with proceeds to go toward scholarships and workforce development programs
- Distribution of gambling revenues to cities and counties for capital or other nonrecurring expenses
- Up to one-half percent of gambling revenues potentially appropriated for programs to address problem gambling.
A second bill, Senate Bill 294, would take effect if voters approved a constitutional amendment. This bill would create the Alabama Education Lottery and Gambling Commission, would oversee licensing and regulation of the casinos and lottery, and establish trust funds for lottery and gambling revenue and an administrative system for managing and distributing those funds.
Little time left
Albritton’s bills have been anticipated, but they come more than halfway through the 30-day legislative session, leaving little time for them to go through the necessary committees and floor debates needed to make it to the governor’s desk. Albritton represents voters in several south central Alabama counties and the city of Atmore, which is where the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is based.
In his last update as president and CEO of Alabama Citizens Action Program, Joe Godfrey said the late introduction of the bill could signal little support for gambling expansion, especially in an election year. Still, Godfrey urged concerned citizens to contact their state senator to express opposition to the bills.
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