Several people spoke at a public hearing held by the Alabama Senate Tuesday with regards to the Alabama state lottery and casino proposals. The casinos would be located at three or four greyhound tracks. Speakers were divided for and against the proposed plans. Comments generally focused on the casinos, which would be located at Birmingham, Macon County, Greene County, and possibly Mobile dog tracks. A bill would need three-fifths approval from the House of Representatives and Senate to make it on the September ballot for voters. If a vote approves the bill then Legislature would need to hold a special session to pass new laws to start the plan.
Robert McGhee, the vice chair for Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Council, stated this bill first gives the green light to private race track owners in the state to conduct all forms of gaming and then calls on the Legislature to agree on laws regulating how they should conduct their gaming business.
He also stated it is “like handing your teenager a credit card with no rules” and then finding out the teenager spent a great deal when you get the bill. McGhee is against the concept for other reasons including competition as the Indian Tribe already has bingo establishments in Alabama. The tribe worries that allowing class III gambling could hurt their Wind Creek Casino in Atmore. Earlier reports have indicated that they would not be interested in placing a casino in their Mobile Greyhound Park.
The proposal for a state lottery and gaming at the dog tracks is to help with Alabama’s budget. Those who are for the proposal are looking to get tax help from the gaming industry. Macon County is an area of particular economic strain with over 2,000 job losses due to a closed casino, VictoryLand. Authorities raided it most recently on Feb. 19, 2013. The venue now only offers off track betting and simulcast race betting.
One witness said gambling would reduce revenue for other goods and services, and it would not be enough to truly cover the expectations the state is looking for. Others feel limiting the casinos to the dog tracks would mean limiting revenue from the gambling industry.