On Tuesday, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee in Alabama passed a lottery and casino bill to the House of Representatives. The important piece of legislation was approved by members of the Committee just two days before the legislative session ends. The amendment to the law known as SB 319 was approved after a long public hearing session, during which most of the participants were opposing the measure.
The former Alabama governor was also among the opponents of the lottery and casino bill. He expressed his concerns about the structure of the bill as well as the consequences for Green and Lowndes counties, which were excluded from the amendment.
The current amendment that was passed by the members of the Committee is sponsored by Senator Jim McClenon. It is, however, a remodeled version of the lottery and gambling package which was previously introduced by Senator Del Marsh but was rejected by the Senate in March.
The bill would legalize state lottery, with the proceeds generated from it being used to fund educational programs. Meanwhile, the amendment would also allow casino gambling in facilities in several counties. If the bill is passed, it will legalize casino gambling in VictoryLand in Macon Country, GreeneTrack in Greene Country, the Mobile Greyhound Park in Mobile, The Crossing at Big Creek in Houston County, and the Birmingham Race Course in Birmingham. The amendment has also included a location either in Jackson or DeKalb Country for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
According to State Representative Chris Blackshear, who is in charge of handling the bill in the House of Representatives, there are several undeniable facts about gambling in the state of Alabama. Blackshear recognized that gambling exists in the state of Alabama but it is mostly unregulated, bringing the state no revenue.
The future of smaller gambling operators in Alabama would be determined by the Alabama Gaming Commission. This regulatory body will be responsible for overseeing the gambling sector in Alabama and decide the fate of excluded smaller gambling locations such as White Hall Resort and Entertainment in Lowndes County and similar facilities in Green County.
Money Generated from Lottery to Fund Educational Programs in Alabama
Estimates for the annual revenue that regulated gambling would generate for the state of Alabama show lottery revenue between $194 million and $274 million. The money would be collected in a Lottery Trust Fund, with lottery funds intended to support educational programs. While there are no further details about the postsecondary scholarship program that will be funded thanks to the state lottery, the amendment requires a debt relief clause for college students who pursue “in-demand” careers and work in Alabama for a certain period of time.
The proposed tax rate on sports betting and gaming is 20% per year, with a possible tax increase of 2% every five years. The highest the tax rate could get is capped at 30% per year. Estimates of the Legislative Services Agency show that taxes on gambling and betting activities in Alabama could generate annual revenue of $269 million to $403 million.