Alabama legislators advocate for comprehensive gambling legislation to permit lotteries and casinos.

A comprehensive gambling bill was introduced by a group of Alabama lawmakers on Wednesday. This bill has the potential to legalize a state lottery and establish 10 casinos throughout the traditionally conservative Deep South state. Some Republicans are eager to bring this issue to voters in November.

Alabama, unlike its neighboring state Mississippi, does not have a state lottery. In fact, the proposal to allow a state lottery was rejected by lawmakers in 1999. Furthermore, Alabama has been hesitant to embrace full-fledged casinos with table games and slot machines. However, lawmakers believe that implementing a state lottery could generate over $800 million in annual revenue for the state.

If the proposal receives the approval of three-fifths of legislators, it will be presented to the voters for their decision.

“We firmly believe that every individual should have the right to express their opinion through voting,” stated Republican Representative Andy Whitt, who spearheaded the efforts of a team of lawmakers involved in drafting this bill.

The Republican Governor, Kay Ivey, has given her support to the gambling bill, which is one of the many contentious proposals introduced by lawmakers at the start of the legislative session. A committee has moved forward with legislation that aims to criminalize the act of returning someone else’s absentee ballot. Republican supporters argue that they want to implement this restriction before the upcoming presidential election in November.

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A draft of the gambling legislation was shared with lawmakers on Wednesday. Supporters of the bill are optimistic that it could be voted on in committee and on the House floor as early as next week, pending support. Republican supporters of the bill will have to rally votes from their own party members and also secure the support of a significant number of Democratic lawmakers.

Republican Representative Chris Blackshear, the sponsor of the bill, expressed optimism about the progress made in garnering the necessary 63 votes to pass the bill in the Republican-dominated House.

Several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed the need for additional time to thoroughly review the bill before deciding on their vote.

Supporters of the bill presented it as a strategy to address the issue of small electronic gambling machines that have become prevalent in convenience stores and small gambling halls. These machines, which bear a striking resemblance to slot machines, have led to a prolonged legal dispute in the state. Despite ongoing efforts to shut down electronic bingo machines, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate independently from state regulations, currently have three locations offering these slot machine-like devices.

The proposed constitutional amendment aims to introduce several gambling options in the state. This includes the establishment of a state lottery, the addition of seven new casino sites, and the legalization of sports betting. Furthermore, the amendment grants the governor the authority to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. This agreement would allow the tribe to offer casino games at their three existing locations. Additionally, the tribe would have the opportunity to open a new casino site in north Alabama, potentially drawing customers from Tennessee and Georgia.

Lottery proceeds will be directed towards supporting education programs, including scholarships for two-year community and technical colleges as well as dual enrollment initiatives. On the other hand, revenue generated from casinos and sports betting will be allocated to the general fund, with lawmakers making annual decisions on how to distribute these funds.

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