In the southern American state of Alabama and two pieces of legislation that would initiate a referendum on whether to legalize a lottery and license up to five more land-based casinos have reportedly taken another step towards being realized.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service, the pair of measures were approved by the Alabama House of Representatives’ Economic Development and Tourism Committee on Tuesday afternoon despite widespread criticism that they would designate ‘winners and losers’ in the race to win one of the proposed new casino licenses.
The move reportedly means that the brace of instruments could now be put to a full vote before the Alabama House of Representatives as soon as today in advance of the May 17 conclusion of the 105-seat body’s current legislative session. If it is ultimately passed, proponents purportedly hope to be able to ask voters to weigh in on the propositions at the next election in November.
The news service reported that the proposals as written would seek permission to establish a state-wide lottery and allow the jurisdiction’s VictoryLand, Greenetrack and Mobile Greyhound Track dog racing facilities alongside its The Crossing at Big Creek events center to be transformed into fully-fledged casinos. The measures are moreover purportedly seeking the right to give the federally-recognized Poarch Band of Creek Indians the final bid for a planned gambling-friendly venue being envisioned for either DeKalb County or Jackson County.
Alabama is already home to the , Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Atmore and Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Montgomery venues from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians but is conversely also one of only five states alongside Utah, Hawaii, Nevada and Alaska not to have a lottery. Members of the Alabama State Senate reportedly passed an analogous legalization measure last month by a 23-to-nine margin while the Alabama House of Representatives’ legislation is being considered at a time when much of the Alabama State House in Montgomery remains closed to the public owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In throwing his weight behind the propositions, Democratic representative Berry Forte reportedly pronounced that Alabama has waited long enough and that he is tired of seeing locals travel to adjacent states such as Georgia in order to buy lottery tickets. Republican counterpart Chris Blackshear purportedly declared that it has been over 20 years since residents of ‘The Yellowhammer State’ have ‘had an opportunity to vote on a comprehensive gaming plan or any type of gambling’ and that the intervening period has seen ‘almost 200 pieces of legislation’ dealing with casinos or a lottery introduced to no avail.
Forte reportedly told the news service…
“I think we should vote on it and let the folks decide if we need it or not.”