One of the most contested pieces of legislation taken up by the Alabama Legislature on a periodic basis is the issue of gambling. If this regular legislative session resembles those of the past, lawmakers could be in for a robust debate.
One lawmaker who has actively involved himself at the center of past discussions, State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), on Thursday unveiled his comprehensive gambling proposal which he hopes will receive approval from the legislature to be placed on the ballot as a constitutional amendment for a vote of the citizenry.
Presently, Alabama is one of only six states that do not have a lottery.
If approved, Albritton’s proposal would establish the Alabama Education Lottery under the supervision and regulation of the Alabama Education Lottery and Gambling Commission.
The commission would have the authority to grant licenses for the operation of casino-style games, sports betting, bingo and raffles.
According to a summary of Albritton’s bill, the proposal requires a compact to be negotiated between the governor and Poarch Band of Creek Indians to address casino-style games and sports betting on the tribe’s trust land.
The number of licensed casinos that could operate in the state would be limited to five.
Four sites would be home to a single licensed casino awarded through a competitive process. The sites would be located at Greenetrack in Greene County, Birmingham Race Course in Jefferson County, VictoryLand in Macon County, and Mobile Greyhound Racing facility in Mobile County.
DeKalb County or Jackson County would be home to the state’s fifth casino site, which would be made possible by a compact negotiated between the governor and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Additionally, two satellite casinos would be authorized to operate a limited number of electronic gaming machines in both Houston and Lowndes Counties.
A 20% tax would be imposed on net gambling revenues for casinos and sports betting.
More than 99% of all revenue generated from the lottery would be reserved for the Alabama Education Lottery Trust Fund. The revenue would be allocated toward the creation of scholarships to support workforce needs.
Local governing bodies and the state general fund would be the recipients of proceeds in the Alabama Gambling Trust Fund.
The following would receive earmarked funding from the tax on net gaming revenues:
- Long-term mental health care facilities and providers
- Broadband expansion
- Rural healthcare services and telemedicine
- Road and bridge infrastructure grant program
- Prison maintenance and improvement
- Development and improvement of state parks and historical sites
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL