A report from Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh states Alabama could see an increase of $400 million in revenue with casinos and a lottery. The lottery and casinos would be available at the four greyhound tracks according to the news released April 27, 2015. Lawmakers are considering the report and whether it is the right time to have proposed gaming facilities help Alabama raise new revenue.
Marsh stated, “At a time when we are talking about either massive budget cuts or higher taxes,” casinos and a lottery are worth considering. Marsh’s office commissioned the study from Auburn University at Montgomery Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency. The study determined $332 million from lottery could be generated after expenses and prizes are paid.
It also determined anywhere from $64 million to $74 million could be raised through slot machines and table games placed at the dog racing tracks in Mobile, Birmingham, Macon County and Greene County. The amount would depend on the taxes charged for the gaming machines, which could be 13 or 15 percent.
Marsh wanted to have an independent study with gambling numbers to clearly show it is possible to generate income to cover the shortfall in the budget of $200 million for the 2016 General Fund.
The shortfall issue cannot be fixed quickly with gaming since a vote would need to approve the lottery as well as casino games. A constitutional amendment would be required for the games. It has been proposed that a special election occur to institute the games and lottery so that it could help with some of the shortfall. It would not account for the entire amount, but some help, is in some lawmakers opinion, better than no help at all.
Rachel Adams, the Speaker’s spokesperson, told media that House Speaker Mike Hubbard is going to review the report. Hubbard did state an immediate solution is necessary, which the report cannot provide.
Changes have already been made to help the state by reducing the number of state employees from 5,500 in 2010, with another 3,000 proposed losses coming soon. Marsh also states the long term funding issues for mental health, Medicaid, prisons, and senior citizen services need to be resolved and have yet to be.
With the proposed casinos and lottery 11,000 jobs would be created, plus the revenue from taxing the gaming industry would help the state budget. No information on when a decision to vote on the proposed gaming has been given.