Two gambling bills that advanced to the Alabama Senate this week would negatively impact Alabamians, according to Alabama Citizens Action Program.
The two bills introduced by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) propose changes to the Alabama Constitution to allow state-controlled gambling and lay out a framework for oversight of the enterprise.
The first, Senate Bill 293, calls for voters in Alabama to approve a constitutional amendment allowing Class III gambling. Class I gambling is considered “social gambling;” Class II is charitable bingo; Class III is predatory in nature, involving table games, slot machines and other casino-style gambling, ALCAP said.
The two bills are intricately related, according to a March 4 ALCAP update that highlights two “hot topics” related to the effort. Greg Davis, who will succeed Joe Godfrey as executive director of ALCAP in May, said the potential future of the gambling bills changes by the hour.
“No one knows for sure what will happen,” he noted. “It’s difficult to think that Sen. Albritton would have introduced the bills if he didn’t feel confident that he had the votes in the Senate. But that is certainly no guarantee that it will advance.”
Similar to past efforts
Davis said similar legislation from Albritton passed the Senate last year but never got to a vote in the House.
“It’s difficult to know where the 105 representatives stand since they did not vote on gambling like the Senate did in 2021,” he said.
If SB 293 is passed, four existing facilities (Greene Track in Greene County, the Birmingham Race Track in Jefferson County, VictoryLand in Macon County and the Mobile County Greyhound Racing facility) will be “rewarded” for their activity if they are willing to sign a contract and pay fees for the exclusive right to operate as full-fledged casinos, ALCAP said.
Other results of the legislation include the allowance of what ALCAP refers to as “satellite casinos” in Houston County and Lowndes County. Also, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians would be allowed to sign a compact with the state, allowing existing Indian facilities in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka to operate full-fledged casinos with table games, slot machines, sports betting and online sports betting. The compact also will allow them to build a fourth casino in either DeKalb or Jackson County.
Davis laid out the process — and the repercussions — if both bills are passed.
“If it were to pass the Senate and House, which is a very real possibility, then it would be on the statewide general election ballot in November,” Davis explained. “A statewide information campaign until November would divert resources from donors away from churches and other ministries into this unneeded ‘Gambling Free Alabama’ campaign.
“Those who believe in a gambling-free Alabama will still be outspent by those who stand to profit from legalized gambling by two or three times. It will be difficult to win the information campaign leading to a statewide vote.”
Davis further explained what he said will be negative effects if SB 293 and SB 294 pass.
“The bottom line is, this is very dangerous legislation for families and churches that would establish 10 casinos in Alabama. Not two or three or even five. But 10,” he said. “A lottery would also permeate our state as well as in-person and highly addictive online sports gambling. Young adult men — often dads — are particularly tempted by sports betting, which is now being heavily promoted by pro sports leagues like the NFL. With technology, it’s now possible to bet on every play and not just the final score.
“Of course, our churches will be the ones to pick up the pieces, pay the bills and provide counseling to those adversely affected, directly and indirectly, by gambling in Alabama.”
Pray and reach out
ALCAP encourages every Alabama Baptist to do two things in an effort to defeat the legislation: pray and contact their state legislators to let them know they oppose any expansion of gambling in the state and why.
“We know this is a spiritual battle,” Davis declared.
Davis provides daily legislative updates on his live radio show, PriorityTalkRadio.com. To learn more about ALCAP and find the name and contact information of each state senator and representative visit www.ALCAP.com.