Is Alabama finally on the path to lottery gaming? Will there be Las Vegas-style casinos found in the Heart of Dixie? It seems crazy to believe, but it just might be true. On Tuesday, members of the state Senate approved a constitutional amendment and three companion bills. The legislation sets the stage for the legalization of a lottery and new casino gaming options.
Moving On To The Voters
Within the constitutional amendments, a comprehensive plan provides details on how a lottery will take place. Players will only be allowed to purchase tickets at retailers or online. A more intricate plan is included in the legislation that covers casino gambling.
The amendment passed with a vote of 23-9, and it now moves on to the House of Representatives for consideration. If the bill moves out of the House, it will be placed on the ballot for voter approval. For decades, many Alabama residents have waited to see the legalization of lottery gaming. Adding casinos to the mix is a bonus for gambling proponents. But will there be enough votes to see the gambling expansion come to reality?
According to Senator Jim McClendon, the people of Alabama want the right to vote on the lottery and gaming. McClendon stated he appreciates the input from his fellow Senators and the House of Representatives member’s willingness to participate in the discussion, along with Governor Kay Ivey’s office when it comes to the ‘transformational issue’ for the state.
If Approved, What Happens Next?
If SB319 can move through the House and make it to the ballot, plus see a vote in favor of the change, it is expected that up to $710 million in annual revenues would be generated. This would be a huge benefit to Alabama. The Study Group on Gambling, created by Governor Ivey, provided the earnings potential in a detailed report.
The plan is to set up gambling venues in six counties:
- Dekalb or Jackson
- Greene County
- Houston County
- Jefferson County
- Mobile County
- Macon County
A gaming commission would be created to oversee operations, and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ participation in the industry is also covered within the legislation.
Along with the amendment, three companion bills were approved. SB309 covers the Alabama Lottery Corporation and its duties within the new industry. A lottery trust fund would be created, and proceeds would go towards college scholarships. The bill also discusses how the corporation will deal with unclaimed lottery winnings.
SB310 discusses the gaming commission and how funds will be used. A total of $750 million will go towards broadband implementation. Many rural areas in the state do not have access to internet services. School children often fall behind due to being unable to connect to the internet to complete their homework. The funds will certainly help with this issue.
The bill also discusses other uses for funds, including money going towards rural hospitals and mental health needs.
SB311 is the last bill in the set, and it covers criminal activity and the prohibition of campaign contributions.
Now all that is left to do is wait and see what the House of Representatives decides to do. Will they push the amendment ahead, and voters will finally have their say on the matter?