Alabama Casino Proponents Pushing for Progress
Advocates for casino gaming in Alabama are ramping up efforts to see legislation come to fruition in the state.
With 2022 under way, casino proponents in the southern state of Alabama are hoping to see gaming come to fruition. New legislation is in the works to see the state bring commercial casino gaming to the conservative area, but will it be successful? The legislature is still controlled by conservatives, so even though a heavy push is taking place, it still might fail to move forward. This year, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and the Alabama Track Owners Association are working together to campaign for casino gaming. The effort is stronger than ever to see commercial gaming added in the state.
Let the Voters Decide
In Alabama, voters would need to approve any change to the gambling industry. For proponents, they want to see legislators finally put the idea on the ballot. Let voters have a say in whether or not their state allows commercial casinos. Such facilities would offer table games and slots, plus sports betting if the option were approved.
The Poarch Creek Indians are a federally recognized tribe in the state. So far, legislators have not signed a gaming compact with the tribe for Class III games. Because of this, the Wind Creek casinos of the operator cannot offer table games or slots. Only bingo-style games are allowed.
The Alabama Track Owners Association has created a group titled Alabama4Gaming and is using it as a nonprofit political action organization. Just last week, the group dropped a 30-second ad on television to show the benefits of commercial casinos.
The group shows that the state would earn $700 million a year in revenues and bring in around 12,000 jobs to the state without having to use any tax dollars, if gambling were approved. The state constitution currently bans commercial gambling and for a change to occur, a bill must first be approved by legislature at a 3/5 majority. Then the people have a say.
New Gaming Bill Coming
Senator Greg Albritton has plans to bring a new bill to legislature for commercial gaming. The session begins this week and runs through April 25. The senator has been a strong supporter of expanding the gambling industry in the state and hopes that 2022 will be the year the option makes the ballot.
The legislation would allow the three Wind Creek properties of the Poarch Creek Indians to offer commercial gaming as well as four greyhound tracks in the state. This includes tracks in Birmingham and Mobile. The facilities could seek commercial licensing from regulators in the state.
It is interesting to note that Albritton is a republican senator. He is fully supportive of the casino action, but his colleagues are not. The GOP has heavy control of the Senate and House in the state. If enough republican support could be garnered, then the party would easily be able to push legislation forward.
But that’s the tricky part. The conservative nature of the state is what has led to issues passing such legislation in the past. Priorities were revealed this week by the House and casino gambling was not part of the agenda.
Nathanial Ledbetter is the House Majority Leader who stated that there is not enough support to purse gaming. Hopefully, the new legislation will be able to gain enough support to at least allow the residents to decide what happens.