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State Sen. Elliott: Gambling special interests ‘got greedy’

State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) is blaming the “greed” of gambling interests for state lawmakers’ inability to pass a gaming and lottery bill this session.

After the Alabama House and Senate passed very different bills on the matter, a conference committee was formed, but their agreement also failed to pass the Senate by a 20-15 vote. It needed 21 votes to pass due to proposed changes to the Alabama Constitution requiring a three-fifths threshold in each chamber.

Elliott discussed the issue Monday on WVNN’s “Rightside Radio.”

“[T]hey got greedy,” Elliott said. “When the Senate passed its version of the gaming bill…it had a bill that would pass the Senate. And I explained to my colleagues down in the House directly, ‘Hey, listen, this is it. This is the only way this is going to work. And if you change this substantially, it will fail.’ And so we knew seven weeks ago that this was going to fail. As soon as the house decided they were going to go to conference, it was going to fail.”

The senator argued that this was a missed opportunity for those who supported expanding gaming in the state.

“I’m not a big fan of gambling. I wasn’t a big fan of the bill that the Senate passed, but I thought it had some good parts to it. It wasn’t all bad,” he said. “There’s a lot of bad in there, but it wasn’t all bad. And so the good parts of that bill, the restrictive parts, got thrown out with the with the rest of it. And I just think it was a mistake on their part. They had lightning in a bottle…and let it get away from them. By being greedy, by wanting more money and wanting more types of games then was going to be passed by the Senate.”

Gov. Kay Ivey recently said she has no plans of calling a special session to get something passed.

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“Why would I do that?” Ivey said. “They can’t some to any consensus amongst themselves currently, so why would I spend the time, and effort, and money on a special session? So I’m disappointed that the gambling bill is not going to get the will of the people.”

Elliott agreed with Ivey’s assessment.

“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if there would be a special session. “I mean, the governor I think was correct in her statement just a couple of days ago when she said if the votes aren’t there, then there’s no point in calling a special session.”

“I think you’d have a hard time getting a quorum for a special session right now,” he added. “People were so exhausted, nerves are so raw. I think legislators are mad in that they were pushed in some cases and pulled into this. There’s no way this would work in a special session and you’d end up with a failed special session that failed to get a gambling bill passed, and who in the world wants to call a special session just to deal with gambling anyway? That’s a bad plan.”

Elliott also thinks gambling will still be hard to pass in the future.

“I’ll tell you, getting through this session towards the end,” he explained, “I saw members who had voted yes on the original bill that will never vote in favor of gambling again because they saw just how insidious and nasty everyone got. When it just turned greedy and it turned allies against each other, it turned people against each other, and they went ‘Wow, this is what gambling is? Maybe we don’t need this.'”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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