The Alabama Senate Tourism Committee has taken similar steps as other states with legalized gambling. For starters, the tourism committee approved the Lottery and Casino Bill on Wednesday. Now, the bill has proceeded to the Senate Floor.
Speaking about the bill, Republican Senator Greg Albritton, the bill’s sponsor, explained the advantages of the statute to the tourism committee. Greg said that it was time for the state to take control over gambling.
He added that it was time for Alabamians to get their State Lottery. The senator also noted that the money earned from the lotto would fund post-secondary scholarships. Alabama is one of the five states without a legalized state lottery.
The gambling-expansion package will allow the introduction of five casinos, sports betting, and the building of a gambling regulator for all forms of gaming. Once the legislature approves, the new gaming regulator will award one casino license each to existing racetracks. So, you could be looking at Mobile County Greyhound Racing Facility, Greenetrack in Greene County, Victoryland in Macon County, and Birmingham Race Course as future land-based casinos in Alabama.
“This Is Not Gambling Expansion But Gaming Control”
The other gaming property that would get the fifth casino license is Poarch Creek Band of Mission Indians’ venues. The tribe has Class II gaming property in Jackson and DeKalb counties. With a new casino license, the tribe will offer Class III casino gaming.
This would take casino gambling in Alabama to Las Vegas-style gaming. The casinos would offer roulette, blackjack, slots, craps, and other games. Meanwhile, the Indian tribe is offering poker and bingo games.
If the tribe was to get the license, Governor Kay Ivey would negotiate revenue sharing. Currently, the tribe does not pay any tax because Native American tribes can offer Class II gambling on their sovereign reservations without paying tax as stated in the federal law.
New casinos would be taxed 20 percent of the gross gaming revenue. Yet, Albritton insists that the new bill is not a gaming expansion. Instead, it is a gaming control legislature allowing Alabama to exercise its sovereignty in the gambling industry.
Albritton gave examples of how the government had sovereignty over other sectors, including chicken, construction, and banking. He emphasized how the government exercised control in all industries and regulated operations, growth, and taxation.
Last year, another bill similar to Albritton’s was introduced to the Senate and passed. Unfortunately, it did not pass the House, just like most other gambling bills.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, House Republicans oppose gambling bills on account of religion and morals. Moreover, the Indian tribe and four racetracks do not trust each other. This has prevented Democratic from supporting bills that would be beneficial to the tribe or the tracks.
The Bill Faces Opposition
While the bill has passed the Senate Tourism Committee and is likely to pass in the House, it still faces opposition from lobbyists. Some officials in Lowndes and Green counties have aired their concerns claiming that these counties depend on charitable bingo to get revenues.
Unfortunately, the new bill will force charitable bingo operators to seize operations in two years to allow the growth of the state lottery and new casinos. One of the lobbyists for Palace Entertainment insists that the bill should allow charitable bingo operators to continue their work.
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