The Alabama Senate met this week to discuss a proposal to expand gambling in the state. SB 214 would create up to 10 casinos as well as start a lottery. Senator Del Marsh proposed the measure and watched as it fell two votes short to move forward. The vote was 19-13, and now voters will not get a chance to decide if lottery or new casinos should be added in the state.
Marsh stated after the vote that he is not convinced that the issue is dead. He thinks that it will have to be addressed sooner or later. The last time voters had a chance to decide a gambling issue was in 1999 when former Governor Don Siegelman proposed a state lottery.
Let the Voters Decide
The Senator really thought that the measure would go forward since it would give the citizens of the state the option to vote on the topic. Governor Kay Ivey was supportive of letting the voters decide and says that she will continue working towards that goal if lawmakers choose to do so.
In a statement, Ivey said that the vote by the Senate shows that more work needs to be done on the issue and it is too important not to get it right. She pointed out that gambling is complex and challenging and she remains committed to allowing the people of the state to have a say.
Any attempt to see a gambling expansion in the state has failed due to two issues, conservatism and who should offer services. There are many conservative lawmakers who feel gambling is a moral issue and base their decision on religion. There is also an argument over who should have the right to offer services. Currently, the only gambling offered in the state is via the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Speaking of the tribe, they are being accused of bribing Senator Del Marsh for the creation of his gambling bill. A lawsuit was filed this week by three charity organizations who say the senator took money in exchange for paving the way for the tribe to offer Class III gaming.
The suit was filed by OIC Dream Greene County, Dream Count, INC, and Age with Dignity, INC. Marsh and the tribe deny the claims. They say they are unfounded and nonsense.
The Senate bill would have given the tribe the right to offer Class III games which would turn the Class II facilities into full scale casinos.