Alabama Senate narrowly rejects lottery, casino bill

Alabama Senate narrowly rejects lottery, casino bill

By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Senate on Tuesday narrowly voted down a proposal to start a lottery and allow up to 10 casinos, ending an effort to get the issue of gambling before voters for the first time since 1999.

The proposal by Republican Sen. Del Marsh fell two votes short of the 21 needed to get the proposed constitutional amendment through the 35-member Alabama Senate. Senators voted 19-13 for the proposal to authorize a state lottery, seven casinos locations as well as a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for casino games at their three sites.

“I’m not convinced this issue is a dead issue. I think it’s one we’ll have to address sooner or later. I respect each and every one of you and look forward to working with you on whatever the next piece of legislation may be,” Marsh said after his bill’s defeat.

Over the last two decades, gambling legislation in Alabama has failed under a fatal mix of conservative opposition to gambling and a turf war over who could have electronic gambling machines or casino games.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement ahead of the debate, saying the proposal could be, “transformative if done right.”

“While I believe more work needs to be done, moving the bill through the legislative process is a vital next step. My commitment remains the same: to let the people of Alabama have the final say on a good bill that, once and for all, addresses a long-standing challenge that has faced our state,” Ivey said in a statement.

To win approval, the proposal would have to be approved by both three-fifths of lawmakers and a majority of statewide voters in a public vote.

Alabama voters in 1999 voted down then-Gov. Don Siegelman’s proposed state lottery.

Marsh said polling shows that Alabamians want to vote on the idea again.

The bill proposed establishing a state lottery and five casinos — one at four existing dog tracks plus a fifth site in north Alabama that would be run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. It also authorized a compact with the Poarch Band for casino games at their three existing sites that currently have electronic bingo machines.

Lawmakers added two additional sites to the bill after sites in Lowndes and Houston counties asked to be included.

The Legislative Services Agency estimated the lottery would generate $194-$279 million annually for college scholarships awarded on a mix of need, merit and workforce needs in the state. The agency estimated the casinos would generate $260-$393 million annually from the 20% tax on gaming revenues as authorized by this amendment.

Marsh proposed to use lottery revenue for college scholarships and other education need. Casino revenue would be used to help expand broadband access in the state as well as to fund rural health services.

 

Senate Roll Call Vote on Senate Bill 214

SenatorVote
Greg Albritton, R-RangeYES
Gerald Allen, R-TuscaloosaNO
Will Barfoot, R-MontgomeryNO
Billy Beasley, D-Union SpringsYES
Tom Butler, R-HuntsvilleNO
Clyde Chamliss, R-PrattvilleNO
Donne Chesteen, R-GenevaYES
Linda Coleman-Madison, D-BirminghamYES
Patricia Dunn, D-BirminghamNV
Chris Elliott, R-DaphneNO
Vivian Figures, D-MobileYES
Sam Givhan, R-HuntsvilleNO
Garland Gudger, R-CullmanNO
Kirk Hatcher, D-MontgomeryYES
Jimmy Holly, R-ElbaYES
Andrew Jones, R-GadsdenYES
Steve Livingston, R-ScottsboroYES
Del Marsh, R-AnnistonYES
Jim McClendon, R-SpringvilleYES
Tim Melson, R-FlorenceYES
Arthur Orr, R-DecaturNO
Randy Price, R-OpelikaYES
Greg Reed, R-JasperYES
Dan Roberts, R-BirminghamNO
Malika Sanders-FortierNV
Clay Scofield, R-GuntersvilleNO
David Sessions, R-MobileNO
Shay Shellnut, R-TrussvilleNO
Bobby Singleton, D-GreensboroYES
Rodger Smitherman, D-BirminghamYES
Larry Stutts, R-TuscumbiaNO
Jabo Waggoner, R-VestaviaYES
Tom Whatley, R-AuburnYES
Jack Williams, R-MobileYES