Alabama has come into the news more and more this year for new measures related to opening up gaming in the Cotton State. Earlier this month, various proposals from new casinos to a new state lottery got the green light from the Alabama Senate committee. In a report from AL.com, the Tourism Committee approved the two-bill plan on 9-1 votes at a public hearing. With the results of the vote, some from the community were mixed in their reaction.
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After the Tourism Committee approved the two-bill plan, the bills are now in line for a vote in the Senate. Per AL.com, the bills are being spearheaded by Senator Greg Albritton and mainly concern the statewide regulation of gambling. The senator says that because the state receives no tax revenue or benefit from the gambling that happens in Alabama, there needs to be state regulation which is why creating an enforcement commission is part of his proposal. In Albritton’s proposal, he says that the only expansion of gambling in his proposal is the lottery, which would help to support educational scholarships.
According to the senator and the same source from AL.com, this particular plan would put a cap on the number of casinos in the state and also provide control over the electronic bingo casinos. The executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, Joe Godfrey, whose organization advocates on behalf of churches and opposes gambling bills, said this plan would expand gambling. If all of this legislation is approved it would not only create an Alabama Education Lottery, but help pave the way for five new casinos, two satellite casinos, and impose a 20% tax on net gambling revenues for casinos and sports betting.
Per WSFA 12 News in Montgomery, Alabama, the two bills making their way through the legislature crossed a big hurdle last Wednesday by getting passed by the Senate committee. While this was a big win for some lawmakers in the state, per the news outlet there were some audible “groans” in the crowd as the bills were voted on. In fact, during a public comment portion pertaining to the bills, there were no supporters present and some vocally frustrated opponents.
Some of these comments raised concerns about the morality of gambling and its overall addictive nature that could follow the approval of a new lottery measure. Meanwhile, Senator Albritton said they will be consistently monitoring the situation and gathering data on what this could mean for the area. However, he maintains that these bills are designed to regulate and ultimately provide new forms of income back to the communities where the casinos sit and across the state as a whole.
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