The Alabama Senate approves lottery and casino legislation after years of negotiation
On Tuesday (13 April), the Alabama Senate approved lottery and casino legislation after previous discussions on the notion led to policy standstills. Currently, Alabama is part of the five states without a state lottery yet Senators believe voters are more welcoming to the idea.
The verdict was reached as senators voted 23-9 for the proposed constitutional amendment that would greenlight state lottery and nine casinos.
Now, the bill awaits the approval from the Alabama House of Representatives which, if approved by lawmakers, will then go before voters.
According to The Bellingham Herald, Republican Sen. Jim McClendon, the sponsor of the bill, shared after the vote:
We have done a monumental job in overcoming something that has been haunting this body for as long as I’ve been here,
McClendon also stressed that voters will make the final call on the proposal stating:
What we are really okaying is the right for our constituents to come to the voting booth and decide if they like this or not,
[People] don’t have to drive to Georgia to buy a dadgum lottery ticket.
The bill is a revised version of a previously rejected bid earlier this session which promises to put the casino licenses up for bid. Additionally, existing operators will also have the opportunity to make a final bid to exceed the highest bidder to win the license in their individual county.
McClendon reassured that the state would gain from a "high bid" and existing sites “get a chance to stay in the game... and keep the job for their employees and keep their operations going".
Furthermore, lottery proceeds are reported to be used for education purposes involving a college scholarship programme. Additionally, net casino and sports betting revenue will be subject to a 20% tax, and the first $750 million garnered from gambling will go towards broadband infrastructure in Alabama.
While senators are more confident that voters will gravitate towards the bill, the Senate has fought on this issue for years with no luck. This has been a historically difficult notion as back in 1999, voters rejected then-Gov. Don Siegelman’s proposed state lottery. In fact, the newly approved bill has only come after two other gambling this session had been dismissed.
Sen. Greg Albritton commented on the challenges faced previously when trying to reach a compromise on the legislation:
The road and the path that we’ve had to get to this point of having this bill before us has been a difficult and tortuous one,
Source: The Bellingham Herald
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