By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A top Senate leader says he’s prepared to introduce gambling legislation in the coming days, though he doesn’t know if the Legislature has the appetite to pass it in the second half of this election year session.
Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, spoke about the gambling issue on Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal. He said he has three separate bills dealing with the gambling question in different ways, but he hasn’t decided which one to drop.
“This is not a package of bills, these are three separate bills addressing it in different ways,” Albritton said. “We have the vehicle, if you will, to move this along. We have the votes in the House and Senate to pass these bills, alright? The problem is getting them through the process. That’s where we’ve fallen short in the House each and every time.
“I’ve been told by House leadership, ‘don’t bring it up. Don’t do it. We’re not going to deal with it this year.’ That’s a hurdle to overcome.”
Last year, Alabama Senate approved a wide ranging gambling plan that included a state lottery, expanded casino operations and legalized sports betting. However, it failed to reach a vote in the House before the regular session ended.
Previous attempts to pass lottery-only legislation have failed in recent years due to a various mix of conservative opposition to gambling, longstanding feuds over electronic gambling and how to use the lottery revenue.
Alabama is one of five states — along with Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada — without a state lottery.
When asked about the societal costs of gambling that opponents frequently point out, Albritton said gambling already exists in the state and needs to be better regulated.
“Gambling is already present, with all of its problems and ills and issues right now, but we have no control over it. It’s the Wild West out there. Alabama has to take control of this industry. That’s where I’m headed toward.”
Albritton’s gambling comments start at 19:00.