Alabama Governor Seems Supportive of Gambling Legislation

The potential for expanded gambling in the state of Alabama seems to be slowly creeping forward. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey spoke recently to the press about current legislation considerations and it seems that there is support for casinos as well as a lottery.

Positive Momentum

Earlier this week, Ivey completed a ceremony for Supermarket Employees Day and was asked about a constitutional amendment proposal by Senator Del Marsh regarding the creation of five casinos and a state lottery. The bill was introduced on February 11 and already discussed in the Senate. The debate is expected to continue this week and a vote may take place as well.

A reporter asked the governor if she felt like the process had been transparent and she said so far, yes. She was asked if she supports the effort and said as far as she knows, she does. In the past, Ivey has not been supportive of gambling. However, last year, she created a study group to look at a lottery and other options.

The governor wanted to provide accurate information to lawmakers and the public, settling any issues that may have stopped such legislation in the past. A report was provided late last year that said the state is not benefiting from gambling now. It also did not provide a recommendation one way or the other.

However, Ivey has said since the report was released that the state could benefit if the industry was created in the right way. Each of the states that border Alabama has a lottery and it is used to provide funds for education. Alabama ranks poorly when it comes to education so any funds that a lottery or other gambling industries could provide would be extremely helpful.

Marsh’s bill plans to apply funds from the lottery to college scholarships for high-demand careers. The money provided by any casinos in the state would be used to provide broadband internet access to rural areas in the state. There are many regions where the internet is nonexistent which leads to major issues in education, especially today as the majority of work is completed online.

Funds would also be used to support health care and mental health needs, along with the General Fund.

Will the Public Approve?

For the legislation currently under consideration, voters would have the final say. A referendum would have to be placed on the ballot and voters approve the change for any gambling expansion to be completed in the state. According to the Legislative Services Agency, lottery and casinos could bring in as much as $670 million. On the low end, the state still expects around $450 million.

Over the years, efforts have been made legislatively along with discussions involving a gambling expansion, especially a lottery. In general, there has been little momentum as the state is a conservative one. Religious groups play the role of the opposed on the matter.

However, the citizens in the state seem to be open to lottery gaming and possibly casinos as well. If the funds would be used to help students, people may be more willing to go ahead with the plan as students have been struggling academically for years.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.