Alabama’s Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee will consider a proposal to publish a lottery and casino bill on Wednesday 10th February. If the proposal is approved, the bill could come before the Senate floor as early as Thursday.
Republican Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston is the author of the bill that would see the matter of state-regulated gambling come before the electorate for the first time since 1999.
The bill proposes the establishment of a state lottery along with five casinos and a regulated sports betting market. The casinos would be built on the state’s four existing dog tracks while the bill also proposes that the fifth casino be run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Marsh proposes a tax of 20% on all casino revenue. While the senator hopes to use some of the tax to fund college scholarships, the majority (75%) would go towards technology infrastructure, mental health, and rural health services. 5% would then be set aside for local governments while the remainder would be allocated by the legislature to other departments or initiatives.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Marsh said:
“I think the people of Alabama are ready to address this issue and want to. Polling data shows they want a vote on this. My job is to put together a piece of legislation that serves the needs of the state, controls gaming, and provides revenue to accomplish things that people of Alabama want to see accomplished.”
For the proposal to pass, a three-fifths majority will be needed in each chamber of the Legislature. But even if the bill achieves that goal, it’s far from a done deal with voters having the final say.
The last time the state voted on gambling was in 1999 when Alabamans rejected a state lottery which was proposed by Governor Don Siegelman. Since then, there have been several attempts to bring gambling to the vote, but each time the proposed bill has been defeated in the house.
Although the bill could be up for discussion on Thursday, Marsh has stated that he is prepared to wait until the house returns from a week-long break before seeking a vote.
Image credit: DXR / CC BY-SA 4.0