Senate Committee Approves Alabama Lottery and Casino Bill

Alabama State Seal With a Casino Background
The Alabama Senate Tourism Committee voted in favor of the Lottery and Casino Bill on Wednesday, advancing the legislation to the Senate Floor.

Republican Senator Greg Albritton, the bill’s sponsor, told the committee that it was time for the state to “grab control” of gambling by limiting the number of casino sites. Additionally, Albritton said that his bill would give Alabamians their much-wanted State Lottery.

Eight Full Casinos

The measure aims to authorize a state lottery, 8 full casinos with with slot machines and table games, and two smaller gamblings sites that can accommodate 300 slot machines each. Licenses at the four track locations will be bid competitively although the track owners will be given the chance to come in and make a final bid for the licenses.

Casinos would be located at the four existing dog tracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobil counties. One casino at each tribal site of The Poarch Band of Creek Indians would also be built while the 8th full casino is being planned for either DeKalb County or Jackson County. Two smaller gambling sites will also be authorized in Houston and Lowndes counties.

Constitutional Amendment

The proposal would require a constitutional amendment. It must first be approved by three-fifths of lawmakers and then majority of the voters in a state-wide vote before it can take effect. The gambling bill along with a companion legislation that will authorize the creation of a state gaming commission and operating rules, will now go to the Alabama Senate.

Alabama is one of only five states in the U.S.- along with Nevada, Utah, Alaska, and Hawaii, without a state lottery. In 1999, then-Gov. Don Siegelman supported a lottery proposal but was rejected by stat voters. Since then, efforts to create a state lottery and legalize gambling have failed due to a conservative opposition and a dispute on who could operate the legal gambling sites.

Alabama Gambling Bill Headed to the Senate This Week

Alabama State Seal With a Casino Background

Reublican Senator Del Marsh revealed on Monday that the Alabama Senate will be debating on the Alabama gambling bill soon. Marsh says that he expects his bill to be taken up by the Alabama senate on Tuesday. He claims to have the necessary votes needed to pass the legislation out of the Senate. If it passes the senate, it will be sent to the House for more consideration.

Proposal for Five Casino Sites

The latest version of the Alabama gamlbling bill provides for the establishment of a State Lottery and five casinos-one at each of the four existing dog parks and a fifth site that will be run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. It will also authorize an agreement with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for the operation of casino games at their three properties that currently offer electronic bingo games.

Small site operators in Houston and Lowndes county have asked to be included but according to Sen. Marsh, Governor Kay Ivey was “very clear” that she didn’t want too many casino sites in the state. Because of that, the bill will limit casino operators to just five, at least for now.

Lawsuit Filed Against Marsh

Marsh’s announcement was somewhat clouded when a case was filed against him on Monday. The lawsuit, filed by Age With Dignity, Inc., OIC Dream Greene County and Dream County, INC alleges that Marsh received bribes from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians related to his push for gambling in the state. Both Marsh and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians have denied the accusations, with the latter issuing a statement calling the lawsuit “nonsense”.

The lawsuit also claims that Senate Bill 214 creates an “illegal monopoly”, claiming that some local local economies in some communities in Alabama would be missing out on thousands of dollars with the bill limiting casino operations to five sites plus the three existing tribal properties.