Alabama Lawmakers Pushing for Gambling Reforms

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On Wednesday, a group of lawmakers from Alabama introduced a comprehensive gambling bill aiming to establish a state lottery and create 7 new casinos within the state.

This move comes as a number of Republicans aim to present the question to voters in November. Alabama is one of the very few states not to operate a state lottery after lawmakers rejected the idea of creating one in 1999. In general, it is resistant to gambling; however, should the proposed bill pass, it could bring in more than $800 million in yearly revenue for the state.

To proceed, the bill requires approval from three-fifths of the legislature before it can be presented to voters.

Related: Alabama Considers Legislative Push to Legalize Gaming

Vote Could Take Place Next Week

The group of legislators working on the bill was led by Republican Rep. Andy Whitt, who says that people deserve the right to vote on the issue. The bill is also backed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, and some say there could be a vote in committee and on the House floor as early as next week.

However, this will rely upon support and the Republican backers will have to whip votes and win over a number of Democrats. Yet, Republican Rep. Chris Blackshear, who will be sponsoring the bill, said that they are “trending in the right direction”.

Bill Would Allow Extensive Gambling

Should the bill pass, it would permit seven new brick-and-mortar casinos, sports betting venues, and a state lottery and allow the governor to reach a deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians that would allow the tribe to operate casino games at their three existing gambling locations. Furthermore, the bill would also allow the tribe to operate casino games at a new location in north Alabama, aimed at attracting players from Georgia and Tennessee.

It is proposed that revenue from casino and sports betting would go to the general fund and each year, lawmakers would decide how it is spent. Proceeds from the lottery would go to a variety of educational programs.

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