Alabama Senate OKs Lottery, Casinos, Sports Betting Legislation
A state lottery and sports betting are now back on the table in Alabama.
The Alabama Senate has approved lottery and casino legislation, voting 23-9 in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a state lottery and allow nine casino sites in the state, according to the Associated Press. The bill now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.
If the legislation is approved by lawmakers, it would then go before voters for the November 2022 general election. The legislative session in Alabama ends May 18.
The legislation passed Tuesday night by the Senate is similar to a proposal that previously failed by two votes earlier in the session. State senators were considering SB 214 from Sen. Del Marsh that would bring a lottery, casinos and sports betting to Alabama, but it was delayed in February and then voted down in March.
The new bill includes new provisions such as putting the casino licenses up for a bid. If passed, casino and sports betting sites would be in Jefferson County, Macon County, Mobile County, Greene County, Houston County and either DeKalb or Jackson counties, in addition to three sites owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Republican Sen. Jim McClendon is the sponsor of the bill and reiterated after the vote how the state’s citizens will have the final decision.
“What we are really okaying is the right for our constituents to come to the voting booth and decide if they like this or not,” McClendon said, according to AP. “We have done a monumental job in overcoming something that has been haunting this body for as long as I’ve been here.”
In March, Alabama lawmakers proposed new lottery bills after a gambling proposal was defeated that would have authorized multiple casinos in the state. Alabama is just one of five states without a lottery.
McClendon’s original bill included a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide whether to have a lottery but did not include casinos. But the Senate decided to adopt a substitute bill by McClendon that added six new casino locations to the plan.
With the bill, the Alabama Gaming Commission would be created and would be responsible for issuing licenses for the casinos through a bidding process. The bill would also require the governor to negotiate a pact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which would allow the tribe to offer a full range of casino games at its resorts in Altmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. Currently, those locations only feature electronic bingo.
In addition to a state lottery and casino sites, the bill would also authorize sports betting in Alabama.
Optimistic It Will Get Passed
McClendon is hopeful the bill will get passed in the House. During the session, he highlighted how various House members have been involved in meetings with senators, Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff over the past week, al.com reported.
“They should be ready in the House to deal with this,” McClendon said, according to al.com. “I know they have been tracking it. They’ve been in constant contact with me, wanting to know the status.”
Revenue from the lottery would be used for college scholarships based on merit, need and workforce demands. The revenue from casinos and sports wagering would go towards expanding access to high-speed internet, rural health care, mental health care and other programs.
A study commission appointed by Gov. Ivey reported in December the state could benefit from regulatory gambling with net revenue of up to nearly $700 million a year from casinos, a lottery and sports wagering.
Some of the neighboring states to Alabama have legal sports betting. Tennessee launched its all-mobile market on Nov. 1. Mississippi has sports betting in its riverboat and land-based casinos, but no mobile.
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