Alabama Senate to vote on lottery and casino bill next week

Republican Senator Del Marsh of Anniston has stated a revised version of the Alabama lottery and casino bill will be up for a state Senate vote next Tuesday.
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Republican Senator Del Marsh of Anniston has confirmed that a revised version of the Alabama lottery and casino bill will be up for a vote in the state Senate next Tuesday, according to The Bellingham Herald.

Even though last-minute negotiations over the number of casinos and other details are still taking place, Marsh believes his proposal to start a lottery and have as many as 10 casinos in the Yellowhammer State will meet its first major test next week.

If approved by both chambers of the state’s Legislature, the bill will go to a public vote for final approval, putting the issue of gambling before voters for the first time in over 20 years.

Alabama is one of just five states without a state lottery. Alabamians voted down the idea of a state lottery in 1999, but Marsh argues it’s time to ask the public again, and he believes they will approve it this time.

“The polling shows even among Republicans, the vast majority are ready to vote on this,” he said, adding that he thinks that they will vote to approve it.

“There’s no doubt that the lottery is more popular. But the gaming is actually more popular than I expected in the polling.”

The current bill proposes establishing a state lottery and five casinos, one at four existing dog tracks plus a fifth site in north Alabama that would be run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

It also urges the governor to negotiate with the Poarch Band for a compact involving its three existing sites that currently have electronic bingo machines. Other smaller operators, including sites in Lowndes and Houston counties, have asked to be included.

Marsh said one idea is to increase the five sites to seven based on the state’s congressional districts, and have would-be casino operators apply for the licence in those two districts.

The senator believes he has the 21 votes needed to pass the bill in the 35-member Senate, adding the additional work should boost its chances in the House of Representatives, a body that has traditionally been more sceptical of gambling legislation.