Alabama Senate Committee Approves Scaled-Back Gambling Legislation

A modified version of gaming legislation was recently approved by the Alabama Senate committee, indicating possible changes to the state’s gambling laws. The adopted measures do not include provisions for sports betting or full-fledged casino games; instead, they are primarily focused on allowing a lottery.

This updated proposal is very different from the previous one that was approved by the Alabama House, which called for adding sports betting, a lottery, and as many as seven additional casinos in addition to existing ones. The revised bill is a result of attempts to get sufficient support in the Senate to enact it.

The timing of the planned constitutional amendment referendum, which decides the fate of the casino package, is one noteworthy change. The vote was supposed to take place in the main election in November, but it has been moved to a special election on September 10.

Sen. Greg Albritton’s Perspective

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Greg Albritton, emphasized the necessity to get enough votes when outlining the reasoning for the changes. By voice voting, the Senate Tourism Committee approved the bill, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

The purpose of the proposed law is to more effectively regulate and tax gaming operations by creating a gaming commission with an enforcement branch. It aims to unify authority over gaming, which is now managed by a disorganized collection of regional constitutional modifications.

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The bill intends to prohibit future gambling-related local constitutional amendments while eliminating the current ones. Gaming would be restricted to certain venues, mostly racetracks and special bingo halls, emphasizing pari-mutuel wagering.

Interestingly, the concept does not include electronic bingo or standard casino games; instead, it offers historical racing machines and simulcast wagering on horse and dog races. The tax rates that are being considered for gaming activities vary from 24 to 32 percent.

In order to facilitate future compacts, the measure also gives the governor the authority to hold talks with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The tribe may be able to provide full casino gambling at its current locations thanks to these agreements.

The state’s General Fund would receive revenue from the lottery and other gaming endeavors until March 30, 2029, at which point it would be divided between infrastructure projects, the General Fund, and education.

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Casino & Sports

Sen. Albritton’s main argument for keeping sports betting out of the bill was his worries about its possible detrimental effects, especially on young people.

The choice to move the vote on the constitutional amendment to a special election in September emphasizes how important it is to get enough support for the proposal to pass.

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