Alabamians could have the chance to vote on a statewide lottery. Legislation introduced Thursday would create a commission to expand, regulate, and tax casino-style gambling and sports betting. Similar legislation has been brought up in the past and failed.
Gaming legislation has a long history in the statehouse.
“I’ve been reading, amending, and even writing gaming bills since 2003,” said Sen. Greg Albritton, sponsor of the new gaming legislation.
And gambling is not new in the state either.
“This is an industry that is running rampant in the state of Alabama,” said Albritton. “Alabama has no benefit from all of these activities.”
Albritton’s bills would give the state power to regulate this industry.
“One is a constitutional amendment, a statewide constitutional amendment,” said Albritton.
The constitutional amendment would create the Alabama Education Lottery and Gambling Commission
“That will regulate control, cap, and tax, all of the entities that are out there existing,” explained Albritton.
The amendment also limits the number of licensed casinos to five locations. Four would be in Greene, Jefferson, Macon and Mobile counties. The fifth license would be negotiated by the governor and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
“We can look at the opportunity to share some possible revenue to what that amount is, would be something, we negotiate with the governor, off of our existing facilities when those go to also casino-style gaming,” said Robbie McGhee, Chief of Governmental Affairs for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
McGhee says they support the legislation.
“The second is an in an enabling legislation to implement that constitutional amendment,” said Albritton.
This bill creates a gaming enforcement division, to enforce gaming laws and collect data on existing gaming activity in the state.
“We will be able to set this up so that those that are existing, will be able to be taxed right away,” said Albritton.
The revenue from the gaming would be taxed at 20% and allocated to education scholarships and the general fund, where specific amounts will be used for mental health care, broadband expansion, rural healthcare, road and bridge repair, and improvement of state parks and historical sites.
“We need to do this right away,” stressed Albritton.
Albritton says if this gaming legislation is passed the state would be able to regulate and collect revenue before it reaches the November ballot.
A vote is possible in a Senate committee as early as Tuesday.