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2 gambling bills move ahead to Alabama Senate

An Alabama Senate committee votes to approve two pieces of lottery legislation despite finding...
An Alabama Senate committee votes to approve two pieces of lottery legislation despite finding no supporters during a public hearing session on Wednesday.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 4:16 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2022 at 9:30 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Two gambling bills making their way through the Alabama legislature have crossed another hurdle toward approval after being okayed by a Senate committee Wednesday.

The pair of bills, which would create an Alabama state lottery, limit the number of casinos with casino-style gaming, and create an enforcement commission to regulate online and in-person gaming in the state, were read in a committee.

Some groans could be heard from the public as the bills were voted on, which came after a public commenting period that saw no supporters and vocally frustrated opponents.

Some of the comments raised concerns about the morality of gambling and the possible addiction that could follow a lottery’s approval. They also voiced opposition based on the economic impact the legislation could have by picking winners and losers.

Many of the officials from areas like Greene County and smaller, surrounding counties, said they would see a significant financial loss if their area was allowed only one of the state-regulated casinos, per the bill. State representatives from Lowndes and Houston counties who spoke at the meeting echoed the same concerns.

“Five other sites that are listed in this bill that would give them the opportunity to expand or have as much gaming as they would like, I think that opportunity should be afforded to any other facility…” stated Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville, who believes the legislation would eventually cause the shutdown of the casino in Lowndes County.

Meanwhile, Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Baldwin County, believes that’s not on purpose, just a side effect of the market.

“In my bill, we immediately begin gathering that data so we can find out who’s doing what and how much,” Albritton said. “So, we need to find out a lot of questions on this before we can make a decision of who’s going to remain in and who isn’t.”

Albritton wants to see the legislation on the Senate calendar as early as next week and expects the bills to move quickly through the Alabama Senate.

When asked about expectations for the House, however, he answered “You tell me.”

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