Alabama HOR Advance Talks on Gambling Proposal

Montgomery, Ala – Legislators from the Alabama House of Representatives reached a compromise regarding the gambling proposal that will allow a state lottery and multiple locations with slot machines or other electronic gambling devices.

In a 72-29 vote, the Alabama House of Representatives approved the gambling proposal. The vote tally exceeded the 63 votes required to win approval in the 105-member chamber. This development with the proposed constitutional amendment is now passed to the Alabama Senate. Three-fifths of lawmakers in both chambers voting for the gambling proposal is needed to send it to a statewide vote slated on Aug. 20, 2024.

Republican Rep. Chris Blackshear, the bill sponsor, stated that the proposal would authorize a state lottery and allow “electronic games of chance,” but not table games, at sites at seven locations. 

According to Blackshear, the locations identified are the dog tracks in Macon, Jefferson, Greene and Mobile counties, as well as locations in Lowndes and Houston counties. The authorization would also require the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Blackshear said they removed language to authorize sports betting.

“I will say the conference report and what came out of the conference is the best piece of legislation that we have to move forward with and give the people an opportunity to vote,” Blackshear added. House members also approved a companion bill that would set up state rules for oversight of the lottery and gambling facilities.

What Do Supporters Feel About the Developments?

House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter stated that he was proud of conference committee members for reaching a compromise and urged the Alabama Senate to pass the bill,

“Most importantly, it allows the people of Alabama to vote on this issue for the first time in 25 years,” Ledbetter noted in a statement following the decision of the compromise.

That said, the measure stalled in the Alabama Senate, where it needed 21 votes. Senators voted 20-15 for a motion to concur in the conference committee, and Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth announced that the conference committee failed.

The Other Side of the Coin

Not everyone was behind the possibility of legalized gambling in the Cotton State. Republican Rep. Arnold Mooney, who voted against the proposal, said it does much more than authorize a lottery because casino-style machines would be allowed at multiple locations.

“I feel like the bill basically allows full-scale Las Vegas-style casino gambling statewide. You know obviously no physical cards, dice, roulette wheels or dealers. But if it is on a screen, you can play it,” added Mooney.

A Long Time Coming

Supporters are aiming for the first public vote on gambling in 25 years. The last time the public vote was used to determine the approval of gambling proposals was in 1999, where they rejected a lottery proposed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman. Since then, gambling proposals have failed due to disputes over allowing casinos and other types of gambling within the state.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed stated the Senate might take up the measure later during the week. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Greg Albritton said that the vote might be closer this time around when asked about the chances of the bill being approved in the Senate.

The legislation has been stalled since March 2024 when senators scaled back a sweeping House-passed plan that would have allowed a lottery, sports betting and up to 10 casinos with table games. Disagreements have included the number of casinos, whether to allow sports betting and when the statewide vote should be held.

Senators delayed a decision on the recent proposal after an initial vote showed it was one short of the required 21 needed to win approval. That said, the bill is still alive for senators to try again in the final four days of the 2024 legislative session.

What Happens to Alabama’s Gambling Industry?

Outside of horse racing and greyhound racing, Alabama has not legalized gambling and online casinos within its state’s jurisdiction. This includes conventional gambling activities like poker, slot games, and table games as well as sports betting.

If the gambling proposal is approved by the Senate, this would significantly increase the chances of the Cotton State legalizing gambling and online casinos in their territory. Its supporters would have to garner support from the public to see the Cotton State become a member of the USA states where gambling and online casinos are legal.

Last Updated on by jonathan r

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