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GOP proposal would open door to lottery, casinos in Alabama

AlabamaAlabama: GOP proposal would open door to lottery, casinos in Alabama
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A constitutional amendment that would legalize gambling in Alabama authorizes a lottery, casino gambling and expanded Indian gaming.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, a Republican from Birmingham, Ala., gave other state senators an initial draft of the legislation Thursday. It calls for a Sept. 15 election so voters can decide the amendment's fate in wake of a projected $250 million shortfall in state's revenues this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

"I could come in on Tuesday and my colleagues could take the weekend on this and have different thoughts," Marsh said. He's willing to change what now would allow a statewide lottery; casino-style gambling at four dog tracks; and authorization for the governor to negotiate a gambling compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the only federally recognized tribe in the state.

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have lotteries. Only Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah do not.

Though the Republican caucus gave Marsh the go-ahead earlier this week to file the gambling legislation, Senate Republicans had mixed reactions to the proposal. GOP Sen. Paul Bussman of Cullman, Ala., said he had qualms about gambling, particularly its effect on poor and working-class Alabama residents.

"I've seen so much research about how (gambling) affects different groups in the state," he said. "I don't know that we should fix this problem on the backs of those people."

Twenty-three states already have commercial casinos, and 28 — including Alabama — have Indian casinos. The Poarch Band has casinos in three locations in Alabama: Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. But federal law won't allow the tribe to offer slot machines and traditional casino table games such as blackjack, craps and roulette without negotiating a compact with the state.

Marsh's proposed amendment could face a major hurdle in the state House, where Speaker Mike Hubbard, a Republican from Auburn, Ala., has indicated that he favors the tribe's proposal to provide the state with a $250 million bailout this year and then negotiate a compact to provide annual revenue. That would provide an immediate resolution to Alabama's budget shortfall while it awaits revenue from a lottery to start rolling in.

However, Marsh also mentioned a his own solution for the immediate budget shortfall: a loan secured with future gambling revenue.

"I think if you pass something like this, I think you can do a bond against this to get you through," Marsh said. "Once you know the income is coming, you could borrow on that projection."

In a statement Thursday evening, Stephanie A. Bryan, Poarch Creek tribal chairwoman, said she couldn't comment on the bill because she had not reviewed it. But she said the tribe is under no obligation to negotiate a compact.

Without a compact, the tribe could continue to offer pull-tab tickets, bingo, poker and other card games. State officials have clashed with tribal members about electronic bingo machines at their three casinos, saying the electronics are slot machines, and an appeal of litigation in the case is awaiting a ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Should the amendment make it to a ballot and be approved by voters during a September election, it will mean a large injection of cash annually after 2016. Where that money will go and how it will be used are largely unclear in Marsh's draft bill.

Tax revenues from four dog-track casinos will be directed to the state's general fund budget, according to the draft proposal. Revenue from the statewide lottery — estimated by an Auburn University at Montgomery study to be more than $300 million annually — would be placed in a trust account "until the proceeds are appropriated by the legislature."

A five-person commission would oversee lottery and the commercial gaming operations. Initially state lawmakers would appoint them: one each from the governor, Senate president pro tem, speaker of the House, state attorney general and lieutenant governor.

Democrats, who have long supported a lottery, have signaled they like Marsh's proposal.

"As I look closer, I might have some notes about it, but right now I'm pleased with it," said Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat from Greensboro, Ala.

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

USA Today, Lottery Post Staff

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9 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by TnTicketlosers.
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Technut's avatar - moon
3rd Rock from Sun
United States
Member #159103
September 13, 2014
151 Posts
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Posted: May 5, 2015, 9:59 am - IP Logged

Like i said to a similar post. even the politicians know that the voter would prefer a lottery over new taxes.

Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a gift that's why it's called the PRESENT! (c8

    music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
    Happy California
    United States
    Member #157856
    August 2, 2014
    1522 Posts
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    Posted: May 5, 2015, 1:59 pm - IP Logged

    My preference would be for Power Ball and Mega Millions only.  I am biased of course .US Flag

     I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better. 

     Attributed to Joe E. Lewis and others

      Avatar
      Kentucky
      United States
      Member #32652
      February 14, 2006
      7314 Posts
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      Posted: May 5, 2015, 7:29 pm - IP Logged

      The Alabama news people believe the state legislation will pass a bill legalizing a lottery and casino gambling.

        mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
        JACKPOT HUNTER

        United States
        Member #141034
        April 2, 2013
        1408 Posts
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        Posted: May 5, 2015, 10:24 pm - IP Logged

        About time Alabama.

        Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

        Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

          Bondi Junction
          Australia
          Member #57242
          December 24, 2007
          1102 Posts
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          Posted: May 6, 2015, 9:13 am - IP Logged

          If and when Alabama establish a  state lottery, hopefully they will allow winners to remain anonymous.

          We all get a lot out of lotteries!

            wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

            United States
            Member #15143
            May 10, 2005
            414 Posts
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            Posted: May 6, 2015, 11:54 am - IP Logged

            If and when Alabama establish a  state lottery, hopefully they will allow winners to remain anonymous.

            I Agree! and also hope they go with physical ball drawings vs Random Number Generator as this will earn then top ratings in the State Lottery Report Card here at Lottery Post. Thumbs Up

              dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
              Oklahoma
              United States
              Member #82391
              November 12, 2009
              6290 Posts
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              Posted: May 6, 2015, 3:52 pm - IP Logged

              Come on Alabama...... Thumbs Up

              I Love Pink & Green 1908

                Gleno's avatar - Lottery-001.jpg
                New Jersey
                United States
                Member #80354
                September 25, 2009
                705 Posts
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                Posted: May 6, 2015, 5:12 pm - IP Logged

                Hope they pay attention to Atlantic City NJ and take a lesson from that city that has developed over the last 5 years.

                People do not have to go to A.C. to gamble, now that it's legal in Pa and N.Y.

                NJ also has online casino gambling for NJ residents, requested by the gambling industry, and now the casinos , which are not making the $$ like the old days, are moving out of town. 

                Given that Alabama has tribal gambling to compete with, they may face the similar fate of A.C. The folks in Alabama may want to take that into consideration.

                Thinking of...

                  TnTicketlosers's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg

                  United States
                  Member #71120
                  February 19, 2009
                  1209 Posts
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                  Posted: May 7, 2015, 3:12 pm - IP Logged

                  I think its funny,bye bye Tn money.