- The Alabama Senate Approves a Lottery and Casino Bill
- Constitutional Amendment Still Needs to Pass the House and Voter Approval
- Up to Nine Land-Based Casinos Would be Built
An Alabama gambling expansion got closer to reality this week after the state Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment. Senators passed the measure 23-9 less than a week after tabling a stand-alone state lottery measure. A compromise to include casino gaming allowed senators to navigate around legislative roadblocks.
What Is Included in the Alabama Gambling Expansion?
First, any measure must pass the state House and then be approved by voters. However, the Senate bill includes creating an Alabama lottery for the first time. Currently, Alabama is one of only five states that does not operate a lottery. The proposal’s sponsor, Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) believes this is vital to gaining support.
If approved, Alabamians will not “have to drive to Georgia to buy a dadgum lottery ticket,” as Sen. McClendon put it.
Additionally, the new bill would permit at least six land-based casinos in the Yellowhammer state. Five of the sites would piggyback on existing greyhound racing or video bingo facilities.
What Locations Could Land Alabama Casinos?
Under the Senate’s plan, casinos would be spread throughout the state. Established gaming locations in the following counties could be expanded to full-service casinos:
- Jefferson County
- Mobile County
- Macon County
- Houston County
- Greene County
Additionally, the state would find another location in northeastern Alabama, in either Jackson or DeKalb County.
Finally, beyond these six commercial casinos, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians will be offered three tribal casino licenses.
What’s Next For Alabama Gambling Expansion?
The Governor, Republican Kay Ivey, wished for a more thorough gambling bill. Now that a comprehensively
reforming Alabama gambling expansion bill is available, she can lobby the House. Additionally, one of the state’s U.S. Senators weighed in, supporting allowing voters to decide. Senator Tommy Tuberville, the former Auburn University football coach, refrained from taking sides. But he says the people should have their say.
Because the measure is a constitutional amendment, it requires support from at least 63 of 105 members of the House. If the House approves, the measure would be placed before voters during the November 2022 election. Therefore, it will be until at least 2023 before Alabama has either a lottery or full-service casinos like neighboring Mississippi.