The owners of the four greyhound racing tracks in Alabama rolled out a new TV advertising campaign in an effort to urge local lawmakers to give the green light to a constitutional amendment that would provide voters to decide whether to add casinos and lottery to the state’s legal gambling market.
The campaign, launched by the Alabama Track Owners Association, kicks off at a time when local legislators are preparing for the 2022 legislative session that is set to start on January 11th. The TV ad claims that casino and lottery gambling could create about 12,000 jobs and account for about $700 million on an annual basis, with the numbers being pretty similar to the projections of the Study Group on Gambling Policy of Governor Kay Ivey that were unveiled in December 2020.
A legislative measure proposed in 2021 was seeking to allow casino gambling at each of the four greyhound tracks across the state. However, the supporters of the bill might be facing serious difficulties on the way to the desired changes.
Yesterday, the House Republican group, which currently holds about 75% of the overall House seats, announced its priorities, and gambling expansion is not among them. As revealed by Nathaniel Ledbetter, the House Majority Leader, the meeting has discussed the proposal but no consensus on the matter was reached. Under the existing requirements, constitutional amendments need to be backed by a three-fifths vote of all House and Senate members.
Latest Gambling Expansion Bill Died in Alabama Senate in 2021
Lottery bills are proposed literally every year in the state of Alabama but none of them has succeeded to get Legislature’s approval since the state voters turned down the proposal of Governor Don Siegelman back in 1999.
In 2021, there was a strong push for gambling legislation, with Governor Ivey supporting it after receiving the aforementioned Study Group’s report. The move was also backed by some legislative leaders.
At the time, a bill seeking to allow Alabama voters to decide whether to allow a gambling expansion including the addition of 6 casino venues, lottery and sports betting, was passed by the Senate. The proposed piece of legislation also called for an agreement with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians who currently operate electronic bingo casinos in Montgomery, Wetumpka and Atmore and a Mobile-based greyhound track. A special gaming commission to regulate the sector would have been established under the provisions of the bill.
However, the piece of legislation was unfortunate to die in the House at the end of the last legislative session after House Democrats withdrew their support due to some disagreements on some of the aspects of the proposed gambling expansion.
Now, Senator Greg Albritton is working on a bill that is set to be pretty similar to the one passed by the Senate in 2021. According to some expectations, casino and lottery proposals are likely to get serious consideration in the Senate in 2022, although other experts, such as House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, have not been so optimistic about the fate of the measure, saying that legislators are likely to face the same disagreements. Some of them even do not expect to see Alabama lawmakers vote on a lottery bill in 2022.