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Siegelman: Allow voting, bidding on gaming in Alabama — ‘Legislature needs to quit playing games with the public on this issue’

A few days beyond 22 years ago, Alabama voters rejected then-Gov. Don Siegelman’s referendum to create a state lottery in Alabama.

The measure fell by a 54% to 46% margin. However, had the vote swung the other way for Siegelman, Alabama’s gaming dilemma may have been a long-solved problem by now.

Once again, however, the gaming topic remains front-and-center in Alabama politics. However, instead of a threat beyond the borders of Alabama in the form of Mississippi gaming interests, Siegelman sees obstacles from within the state.

During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Siegelman suggested splitting all the various gaming components, including casino gaming, lottery and sports betting up and dealing with them individually.

He called on the Alabama Legislature to “quit playing games” with the gambling issue.

“I think mostly the ghosts of the future who are haunting Alabama’s opportunity to pass a lottery and perhaps sports betting and perhaps casinos,” he said. “You know, what I have been saying and what I’ve said on this program before is the legislature needs to quit playing games with the public on this issue. They’re trying to slide something through. They want to have an all-or-nothing vote on casinos, the lottery, sports betting.”

“And then they want to give the license for everything existing dog track owners or the Poarch Creek Indians,” Siegelman continued. “It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. First of all, we ought to be voting on each item individually. If people want casinos, let them vote for casinos. If that region of the state votes for casinos, then let them decide. Let the political jurisdictions in those areas decide where they’re going to put the casinos. And it would be an open public bid process.”

He added, “If Harrah’s wants to put a casino in Alabama, or the Bellagio wants to put a casino in Alabama, then they ought to have an opportunity to bid on it. It makes no sense just to give a license or a casino to somebody who opened a dog track 50 years ago in Theodore, Alabama, for God’s sake.”

@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.