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New Casino, Sports Betting and Lottery Bill Approved by the Senate Tourism Committee Now Heads to Alabama Senate

A legislative committee in Alabama has acted quickly and advanced a casino and lottery piece of legislation earlier this week. The move followed a public hearing that was dominated by opponents of the proposed bill who claimed that, as a result of the measure, the licenses will be handed to a number of powerful gambling operators.

On February 9th, the Senate Tourism Committee voted in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment seeking to legalize 8 full casinos with table games and electronic gaming machines, 2 smaller gambling venues with up to 300 slot machines each, sports betting, and lottery in Alabama. Now, the bill is proceeding to the Senate floor of the local Legislature.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Senator Greg Albritton, explained that, in his opinion, it was high time for the state lawmakers to address the issue of gambling and expand the local legal gambling sector. He noted that his piece of legislation would ensure the establishment of a much-wanted lottery and would establish control over the gambling industry by allowing only a limited number of casino venues across the state. According to him, local people have been ready to vote on such an issue for years.

Senator Albritton also said that the proposed measure would be forwarded to a statewide vote in November 2022 in case Alabama lawmakers give their approval.

The Bill’s Opponents Say Only Limited Number of Gambling Firms Will Be Given Casino Licenses

The proposed bill, however, faced some opponents who believe that the piece of legislation would essentially grant only a few select operators with the permits to operate casinos. According to one of the measure’s critics, Representative Kelvin Lawrence, the Legislature should not be able to pick winners and losers. He further noted that an existing facility in his county would be closed as a result of the bill because the number of electronic gaming machines allowed there would be limited.

The casino venues that would be allowed under the provisions of the bill are set to be located at the already existing dog race tracks and sites owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Four existing dog race tracks in Jefferson, Greene, Mobile and Macon counties are set to host casinos, with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians set to have a casino at each of the three tribal locations, as well as a new location in either Jackson County of DeKalb County.

A competitive bidding process is set to be organized to hand out the licenses at track locations, but track owners would be given the chance to make a final bid for the license. As mentioned above, the proposed piece of legislation would authorize two smaller satellite operations in Lowndes and Houston Counties.

The proposed bill would require a change to be made to the Consitution of Alabama. In order to take effect, the amendment has to receive the approval of three-fifths of the state lawmakers and then requires the approval of the majority of Alabama voters. As mentioned above, the proposed bill is now heading to the Alabama Senate along with a companion bill seeking to establish a state gaming commission and some operating rules to control the sector.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.