Kay Ivey: ‘Good’ gaming bill pending in House ‘will allow Alabamians to be the beneficiaries’
The Alabama House of Representatives’ Committee on Economic Development and Tourism on Tuesday via a voice vote gave a favorable report as substituted to SB 319, which would legalize, regulate and implement a lottery, casino gaming in select locations and sports betting in the Yellowhammer State.
The sub advanced by the committee contains significant changes from the Senate passed version of this constitutional amendment, although the general structure of the legislation remains in place. The House committee version, notably, beefs up enforcement mechanisms in SB 319 and makes tweaks to the revenue allocation aspect of the proposal. This includes the bill as reported by the committee sending all lottery revenues towards education scholarships and loan forgiveness programs rather than sending some to general K-12 and postsecondary purposes.
The casino gaming and sports wagering proceeds would go 40% to “the additional provision of enhanced healthcare services,” 50% to “capital or other non-recurring expenses that serve a public purpose,” and 10% divided between counties and municipalities.
Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City) is carrying SB 319 in the House. Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island) moved to give the bill a favorable report in committee; that motion was seconded by Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest).
Blackshear says the legislation would for the first time ever allow the state to control, regulate and benefit from gaming that is already occurring in Alabama.
The sub was drafted with significant involvement from Governor Kay Ivey’s office.
In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Ivey confirmed she believes the iteration of SB 319 that advanced from the committee “is a good bill.”
“This has been a long, complex process, and I have stayed highly engaged because this is too important of an issue not to get it right,” the governor explained.
“I am pleased that after many discussions with the Legislature, I believe we have found a path forward to once and for all address gambling in Alabama,” Ivey continued. “Let me be clear, this is not something that everyone will walk away with 100% of what they would prefer or want. However, I believe this is a true bipartisan effort and a true compromise where everyone can feel confident that we are sending the best possible plan to the people of Alabama, giving the voters the final say. The proposal in its current form limits gambling to select destinations, allows us to clean up the current rampant, illegal operations and will allow Alabamians to be the beneficiaries of this activity.”
Former State Treasurer Young Boozer, who was a member of the governor’s study group on gaming, also spoke during the committee meeting in favor of SB 319.
“Gaming will work in Alabama, and it will be worth it,” he remarked.
Read more about the sub here.
SB 319 is expected to be considered by the full House on Thursday, the second-to-last day of the 2021 regular session. If passed as substituted, the measure would have to be approved again by the Senate or head to a conference committee.
As a constitutional amendment, SB 319 would head to a referendum of the people in November 2022 if given final passage by the legislature; the governor would not need to approve it.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn