Yesterday night, the Alabama Senate gave its approval to the proposed casino and lottery legislation as local lawmakers managed to reach a compromise following years of legal hurdles faced by the issue of gambling expansion.
Alabama Senators voted 23 to 9 in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment under which a state lottery and nine casino venues across the state are set to be established. The bill now has to be taken into consideration by the other chamber of local Legislature – the Alabama House of Representatives. In case lawmakers in both chambers give their approval to the piece of legislation, the proposal would be presented to state voters for a vote.
According to Jim McClendon, a Senator from the Republican Party and sponsor of the bill, the Senate members had done a monumental job by making a compromise in order to overcome an issue that has been problematic for so much time. He also emphasized that it is the Alabama voters who will have the final word on the gambling expansion and decide whether they want it or not. According to him, if local residents approve the measure, they will demonstrate their unwillingness to travel to neighboring states to buy a lottery ticket.
The bill that was subject to a vote by the Senate is pretty much identical with a proposal that did not manage to pass because it was two votes short of the required number of votes earlier in the same legislative session. Still, it features some new provisions, including offering the casino operating licenses up for bid.
Existing Gambling Operators Will Be Able to Participate in Casino License Bids
Under the provisions of the proposed bill, casino and sports betting locations are set to be hosted in a number of counties across the state, including Jefferson County, Houston County, Mobile County, Greene County, Macon County and either DeKalb or Jackson counties. Three sites owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are also set to offer casino and sports betting services.
The casino operating licenses are planned to be put out for a bid, with the already existing electronic bingo operations and dog race tracks, such as VictoryLand and Greenetrack dog tracks, promised to be given an advantage in case they decide to participate in the bidding war. The existing operators will be provided with the chance to enter the competition and make a final offer to surpass the highest bidder to win the casino license in their respective counties. As for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the Native American tribe will get the right to make a final bid for a casino license in either Jackson or DeKalb counties.
Senator Jim McClendon has explained that the state of Alabama is expected to only benefit from the gambling sector’s expansion, with the existing sites offering gambling services getting a chance to operate in the sector and maintain their operations and employees’ jobs.
Furthermore, the expected proceeds of lottery services would be used for education programs. A 20% tax on the net revenue of casino and sports betting operations is set to be imposed, with the first $750 million in gaming revenue planned to be used for the implementation of broadband infrastructure in Alabama.