THEODORE, Ala. (WALA) – The 2022 legislative session kicks of Tuesday with a familiar agenda item – gambling.
Gaming proposals in one form or another have been offered for more than two decades, with none crossing the finish line. Supporters got closer than they have in a long time last year, with the state Senate passing a bill to create a state lottery and gambling casinos. But it fell apart in the House of Representatives.
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), who represents all or part of five counties in southwest Alabama, said he plans to introduce gaming legislation again. But it will differ from last year’s effort, which drew criticism over its designation of specific locations for casinos. Some parts of the state felt cut out.
“The biggest stumbling block we had last year was the aspect of picking and choosing – telling folks who’s gonna shut down, and who isn’t; where you can or where you can’t. We’re only gonna do this and do that,” he told FOX10 News on Friday. “That that created more obstacles that we needed to have.”
Albritton said the latest iteration is a two-tier approach. First, lawmakers would create a commission to regulate gambling that already exists.
“Let’s find a way that we can bring in everybody that’s involved with this industry,” he said. “Let’s gain control of them, and let’s start regulating and taxing them right away.”
Then, voters would get a chance in November to approve a constitutional amendment allowing a wide range gambling – everything from a statewide lottery to sports betting to slot machines and other casino games.
Rather than limiting where gambling operations could go, applicants would be able to petition the gaming commission. They would also have to get permission from the local county commission, a measure that Albritton said would be a safeguard for areas that do not want gambling.
Albritton said the bill – which has yet to be written – will include language making the gambling commission contingent on passage of the constitutional amendment.