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Ivey CoS Jo Bonner: ‘Governor is not a proponent of gaming’ — Supports giving voters ‘very best comprehensive gaming bill’ in the form of a constitutional amendment

Saturday, during the March virtual meeting of the Madison County Republican Men’s Club, Ivey chief of staff Jo Bonner addressed Gov. Kay Ivey’s objective with the gaming issue as the Alabama legislature grapples with the ins and outs of the so-called comprehensive approach put forth by State Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston).

Ivey had signaled her support for Marsh’s effort prior to the failed vote earlier this month.

Bonner insisted Ivey was not a proponent of gambling but supported voters having the opportunity to decide for themselves on a “comprehensive gaming bill,” which he said would be the “very best comprehensive gaming bill” in the form of an amendment to the Alabama Constitution.

“She’s not pushing for gambling expansion,” Bonner said. “That’s a great question, and I appreciate you asking. She’s pushing for the voters to have the final say. When Governor Siegelman was in office, and we had a lottery vote, Alabama was not on an island by itself. But today, you look around us — gambling is going on in Alabama. It is certainly going on in our neighboring states. You can buy a lottery ticket in Tennessee today, Mississippi and then Florida, as well as Georgia. And a lot of Alabamians travel there to buy their lottery tickets. And you know what Alabama gets as a result of that? Not one penny. Not one penny.”

“The Governor is the first one to say she is not pro-gaming,” he continued. “In fact, she doesn’t gamble. She trusts the voters in Alabama to make an informed decision. Things have changed a lot since that lottery vote came up. And quite frankly, public opinion polls, which don’t really make a difference in our office, but public opinion polls universally show that the voters want an opportunity to have a say because the gambling is going on. Why don’t we get something in return? Why don’t we have investments in broadband or in health care? Or in education, like they do in Georgia? We’re competing every day against these southern states. And so when a student in Georgia graduates from high school, they’re guaranteed a path to go to college if they’ve got good grades and they’ve worked hard. We don’t have that in Alabama.”

“So, to the contrary — the Governor is not a proponent of gaming,” Bonner added. “She is a proponent of making the option available for the people of Alabama to have the final say, and she is working with the legislative leadership — the Republican legislative leadership — to give them an opportunity on the very best comprehensive gaming bill that has ever been brought to them in the form of a constitutional amendment. If the voters vote it down, so be it. That’s fine, but they should have the final say — not the lobbyists and special interests in Montgomery, who are trying to deny the voters, the Republican voters and the Democrats, an opportunity to have a vote.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.