Once again, Alabama lawmakers are looking at gambling and lottery legislation. Currently, there are two gaming proposals from Republicans making their way through the legislature.
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) is sponsoring a comprehensive gambling proposal in the Senate, which would create a lottery, five new casinos, two satellite casinos, sports betting and statewide regulation of gambling. If approved by the legislature, it would also be placed on the ballot for a vote as a constitutional amendment.
State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island) is sponsoring an alternative bill in the House, which he calls a “clean lottery bill.” His bill would allow Alabama citizens to vote on whether or not to establish a state education lottery. The Alabama House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism voted to advance Brown’s bill last week.
Tuesday, during an appearance on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program,” Albritton discussed why he supports a comprehensive gaming plan over a simple lottery bill.
“My feeling is that a lottery does not solve the problem,” he said. “It only increases the difficulty. A lottery doesn’t provide any benefit to the state. It only provides a small position there. It doesn’t help the state with mental health or any other issues. A lottery will only exacerbate the problem and it won’t solve it. The only thing that’s going to solve this is when the state operates its sovereign control and regulates this industry, just like it does in any other industry that’s in the state.”
Albritton also detailed how passing a simple lottery bill would still expand gaming in Alabama.
“If the public does not want an expansion of gaming then do not pass a lottery,” he explained. “A lottery will expand gaming in two different ways. Number one, geographically. If the lottery passes you will have sales at every street corner, in every small filling station, wherever. It will be throughout the state. That’s the greatest expansion we can have in Alabama. Second expansion is once you adopt a lottery in a state, that triggers federal law, which means that the lottery is defined as a class three gaming, well that fits in with the same thing as the poker and the roulette and everything else.”
The state senator then made the argument that a comprehensive gaming plan would bring more benefits to the state than a simple lottery.
“A lottery will do nothing but expand gaming. It has very little gain or assistance for the state,” he argued. “The casinos are already here and we’re not taxing them. My proposal taxes them, it controls them, it limits them where they are, it gives us the authority to control where they are, what they’re doing, what games they have.”
Albritton said the tax revenue from his proposal would go to many different programs in the state, including the construction of new mental health facilities.
“The main function of this, I’m trying to do, is replace mental health facilities and mental health training and mental health aspects of the state that we do not have now and haven’t had for a generation,” he continued. “That’s number one. Number two, trying to help and deal with the rural hospitals and the medical care in rural areas so that we can get the technologies and things involved there to provide the care for people that can’t travel, if that makes sense. Then we take, spread it through the different counties, local governments, and various avenues of the state general fund, and also scholarships for schools.”
The Senate Tourism Committee already approved the plan, but it has not yet come up for a vote on the Senate floor.