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Alabama still uncertain on gambling with new bill in the works

Alabama gambling news

Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) promises to propose yet another gambling bill this year in the state of Alabama.

A champion of regulated gambling, Albritton has been responsible for all kinds of gambling bills in the Alabama legislature, covering subjects such as sports betting, casino gambling, lottery, and a gambling watchdog for the state.

Albritton has urged the state to embrace the gambling industry and start taking advantage of it because, whether or not it regulates gambling in the state, there are already gambling providers who are operating in the unregulated market and making profits with no quota going to the state coffers.

“We’ve got to recognize that this industry is present. It is here. It is among us. And we as a state have got to control it,” Albritton said.

“That would allow the state to gain complete control over any and all gaming in the state. Regulate it heavily. Tax it heavily. Control the growth. Cap it. And benefit from it and also have the means to deal with the ills that gaming brings in that’s already here. To provide the services for those that have trouble with that.

“It does no good if the House refuses to pick it up, if the House refuses to deal with it. Unless the House gets their head out of the sand and continues to ignore the issue, we’re stuck with where we are.”

When it comes to gambling bills, Alabama has not been very receptive. Several have failed, starting with the lottery proposal made by then-governor Don Siegelman in 1999. However, Albritton and other supporters of gambling are hopeful there will be a turnaround this year when the legislative session kicks in on March 7.

Newly elected House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter is in absolute support of gambling regulation in Alabama. However, he feels there are a handful of other pressing legal issues that need to be addressed by the legislature first. He added that about 31 of the House members are new.

“I think there’s a lot of things that’s got to be cleared up. I know Senator Albritton is really wanting to push this and he has for the last several years. But I don’t know that until all that gets cleared up, how strong a piece of legislation could be,” Ledbetter said.

“I don’t know what the Supreme Court’s ruling is going to do to it. I don’t know what the attorney general is going to do with it. So I think there’s just a lot of moving parts that make it difficult to have anything go forward.”

In 2021, Governor Kay Ivey, proposed a comprehensive bill that covered sports betting, lottery, six new casinos, and a regulatory body. This bill was instigated by a survey that was conducted the year before and revealed that the state can potentially garner from $510 million to $710 million in revenue from gambling in a year. Despite this report, the bill still failed.

“There is discussion on that topic and I still support a comprehensive bill that allows the people to vote on whether they want to have gambling. So we’ll see how it works out,” Ivey said Friday.

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