As anticipated by Alabama lawmakers at the end of March, four new proposals for a state lottery and a series of casinos once again failed to pass the current legislative session. Only four days are left out of the current legislative session, which is not merely enough time for any of the bills to still make it through the House and Senate and reach the final passage. While firm gambling opponents are getting ready to pop the champagne in celebration, Senator Greg Albritton is already considering introducing the legislation once again in the upcoming legislative session.
The Ongoing Gambling Debate Has No End in Sight
State Senator Greg Albritton has been representing Baldwin County on behalf of the Republicans since being elected during the general elections in 2014. Ever since he has been a strong supporter of the gambling legislation that would finally align the state of Alabama with the rest of the US states that have adopted a regulated gambling market by now.
His ongoing battles may not have been successful yet, but the Senator doesn’t seem to want to give up anytime soon. At the end of the current session, he will decide whether to introduce his gambling proposal once again in the upcoming session.
Albritton believes the reason why the Senate refused to pass the new gambling law is that it did not want to be the only regulatory body to pass legislation that would eventually fail, in the context of the House having already removed the proposals. The Senator said he did not receive any “adequate responses” except for the justification that the Senate did not want to deal with the legislation. On the other hand, District 25’s House speaker Mac McCutcheon believes the legislation would not have been brought to the floor unless it also had the necessary votes to secure its passage.
Everyone Wants a Piece of the Pie
The executive director of the Alabama Citizens’ Action Program Joe Godfrey believes the gambling legislation failed to pass because of greed. Godfrey, who has announced his plans to retire from the Alabama Citizens Action Program sometime in spring in a Zoom meeting, believes “everybody wants a piece of the pie”. He further explained that any legislation that refers to casinos would not be voted on by lottery representatives. Similarly, any proposal that would not include casinos would not be voted by those who favor the idea of legal casinos in the state.
Senator Albritton considers greed to be human nature and not something that should prevent the legislature from taking control over the gambling industry and properly regulating it. While a regulated industry would generate money that would be pumped into education, Godfrey believes people should make direct donations since not all revenue would actually reach classrooms. Fifty percent would reach the pockets of lottery winners, a percentage would go to the treasury of the lottery’s management, while some of it would be transferred to the state in tax revenue.
Without approval from two-thirds of the chambers followed by voter approval, none of the current proposals would be able to pass. Casino and lottery battles are known to be pretty heated and take a lot of time in Alabama. Last year, a comprehensive gambling bill was passed by the Senate at the end of long negotiations that took several months. In May, the same bill was completely crushed after a few failed House negotiations and attempts to turn it into an exclusive lottery bill.