Casino gambling has long been considered a pariah in the Bible Belt state of Alabama. All forms of gambling were prohibited by the State Constitution in 1901, and since then, only pari-mutuel betting on horse/dog races and charitable bingo games have been legalized. Now, Senate President Pro Tem Albert “Del” Marsh is rocking the Yellowhammer State to its core by drafting a bill meant to legalize a state-run lottery and Class III casino gambling.
Class III casino games include slot machines and traditional, house-banked table games, like blackjack and roulette. For generations, the predominantly religious-minded citizens of Alabama have showed no desire to permit what they consider to be an ill to society. But Senator Marsh believes the revenue that a lottery and casino gambling could generate, and the thousands of jobs it would create, might change their minds.
Del Marsh cited the results of an economic study conducted by the Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency at Auburn University of Montgomery. Released on Monday and based on the revenue generated by comparable states where lotteries and casino gambling are legal, the report indicated that Marsh’s bill could generate an estimated $1.2 billion annually, bringing in over $400 million for the state.
The study revealed that the addition of an Alabama state lottery alone would contribute $332 million to tax coffers, while casino gambling would yield an additional $74 million. Those estimates were based on a cumulative 15% state/local tax rate on casino gambling, with the state receiving 14% ($64mm) of the cut.
Generating much needed revenue isn’t the only incentive for Alabama legislators and citizens to seriously consider the measure before throwing it out. It was also projected that regulating a lottery system and casino gambling would create 11,000 new jobs.
“At a time when we are talking about either massive budgets cuts or higher taxes, this is certainly something we need to take a look at and consider,” said the Senate President Pro Tem. “I’m not sure there are any ideas out there that can create 11,000 new jobs while generating that kind of revenue for state government.”
The draft bill is, for the moment, only a draft. Senator Marsh has not officially introduced it just yet, but instead delivered it to his colleagues in the Senate, asking them to mull it over this weekend. If he garners enough support, Marsh intends to introduce the measure on Monday. From there, if 3/5 approval is received from the House and Senate, the amendment would go to a public vote.
Details of Marsh’s Lottery & Casino Gambling Draft Bill
An excerpt from Marsh’s bill reads:
Section 1. Declarations. The Legislature finds that lotteries have been enacted in many states and the revenues generated from those lotteries have contributed to the benefit of those states. Many Alabamians already participate in other state lotteries and visit casinos in neighboring states. The majority of Alabamians support the establishment of a lottery and support the limitation, regulation, and taxation of gaming in Alabama…
There are four main purposes noted within the lottery and casino gambling measure.
|(1) to establish and provide for a fair and honest lottery to generate revenue for the state;
(2) to limit and regulate gaming by the existing racetracks for which gaming is already legal in Alabama;
(3) to levy taxes on gaming at those racetracks to generate revenues for the benefit of the State General Fund; and
(4) to authorize the Governor to negotiate a compact for gaming with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
AL.com has provided a copy of the Alabama lottery and casino gambling draft bill for your reading pleasure.