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Lawmaker seeks to ban casinos from donating to Alabama politicians

Flickr user Dallas1200am
Flickr user Dallas1200am

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would make it illegal for a gambling interest, or a person or agent acting on behalf of a gambling interest, to make contributions to a political candidate or to a political action committee (PAC). Such contributions are permitted under current Alabama law.

HB 604 defines a “gambling interest” as any business which derives any portion of its gross annual receipts from gambling activities, including the sale of equipment or paraphernalia used in gambling.

“I am not for legalizing gambling in Alabama.” Garrett said. “However, with the recent discussions about possible legislation to expand gambling in the state, I believe it is important to prevent gambling lobbyists from influencing legislators through political contributions.”

Multiple gambling proposals are currently being considered in the Alabama legislature. Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) on Tuesday rolled out a plan that would expand casino gaming and institute a statewide lottery, bringing in an estimated $400 million in annual tax revenue. A second, more tentative proposal floating around the Statehouse would grant the Poarch Band of Creek Indians exclusive gaming rights in Alabama in return for the Tribe covering the state’s current budget shortfall in full for one year.

Gambling interests have been very active in Alabama political campaigns over the years. The possibility that they could soon have access to even greater financial resources has sparked concerns among some lawmakers that they could wield too much influence over state government.

“The gambling lobby is a powerful force in other states, and we need to restrict their impact in Alabama,” Rep. Garrett concluded.

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