MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Pro and anti-gambling forces will be staging rallies in Montgomery on Tuesday. Supporters of legalizing electronic gambling will hold a rally at 10:00am; opponents will rally at 12:30 pm.
A constitutional amendment is expected to be up for debate in the Alabama Senate Tuesday afternoon. UAB pollster Larry Powell says public sentiment is riding with the supporters now. "I think if a poll was done now, if the public supported gambling or not, the pro-gambling wins overwhelmingly," Powell said.
That is good news for Representative John Rogers of Birmingham. Rogers is a pro-gambling advocate. As head of the legislative black caucus, Rogers will be at the pro-gaming rally."It is jobs, jobs and more jobs. People can't buy milk that they bought yesterday. They are out of work," Rogers said.
Still, those opposed to gambling hope church buses will be filled with members from across the state to prepare to send lawmakers a message loud and clear. "It's wrong. Gambling has never been a part of our public policy. That is not a way to boost the economy or to keep families strong. It's regressive tax," says Eric Johnston with Citizens for a Better Alabama.
Both sides will be looking to pressure Alabama lawmakers.
Powell says it would be a mistake to automatically go with public sentiment. "Voting right now on popularity is a dangerous move. Gambling is one of those issues that public opinion shifts easily," Powell said.
Rogers says pro-gambling forces will try to force a vote this week. Powell says if that vote comes up short, this issue is not going away. "Issues never die in Alabama. They are recycled in another form. If gambling doesn't make it this year, it's coming back later on," Powell said.