As promised, State Senator Greg Albritton unveiled the Alabama Legislature’s latest attempt at comprehensive gambling bills on Friday, March 4. limited permission for gambling in the state to be overseen and regulated by a new Alabama Education Lottery Commission.
The amendment would establish the “Alabama Education Lottery” and also allow “casino-style gaming, sports betting, bingo and raffles” regulated by the commission. Licensed casinos would be limited to five locations in the state, including the Mobile Greyhound Track, while a pact between the state and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians would also expand homeland gambling.
The bill would impose a 20% tax on net casino and sports betting revenue, revenue that would be shared with cities and counties for capital requirements. Proceeds from the lottery would establish a scholarship “to support academic achievement or meet state labor needs.”
The constitutional amendment would require a ballot initiative, and casinos, sports betting and the lottery would be on the ballot under one initiative rather than allowing voters to consider each individually.
Albritton opened a press conference on Friday saying he was working on the premise “that not only is the game alive and well, it’s already rampant in the state.” He pointed to existing facilities in Greene and Jefferson counties, as well as online sports betting.
“It’s an industry that needs to be regulated by the state, it’s an industry that’s rampant in the state,” Albritton said. “Alabama has no control over any of these activities or the benefits of these activities, but we suffer the consequences.”
Some 20 local constitutional amendments govern existing gambling operations scattered across the state, he said, but these offer little accountability or direction.
“These two bills provide for a strong gaming commission that will regulate, control, cap and tax all existing entities…immediately,” he said, noting that the functions of the commission exist independently of the amendment. constitutional, and if the law is passed, the commission can begin collecting the tax on existing operations even before a ballot measure is considered.
Albritton did not disclose specific revenue projections, but in 2020 Governor Kay Ivey’s Gambling Policy Study Group suggested that gambling expansion in the state could generate between $300 million and $400 million. dollars a year, while the lottery could generate an additional $200-300 million. . Albritton said today it could be more than $800 million in total.
Bills require a three-fifths supermajority in the Legislative Assembly to pass, meaning support will be needed from across the aisle. Although polls suggest that most Alabamians favor extended play, the issue is not without controversy. Although it has been at the center of proposed legislation for the better part of two decades, lawmakers have been unable to agree. But Albritton said he hoped his bills would eventually find consensus.
“There are going to be controversies and challenges related to this,” he said. “There are enemies against this plan. I propose that we propose amendments on this subject both in committee and on the floor, and the House will do the same. But I believe we have a product and a vehicle — and we’ve done it enough times — that we can put together a package that will benefit the state.