In a landmark shift for Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey recently signaled her support for lifting the long-standing prohibition on gambling within the state. This move was swiftly followed by an announcement from a cross-party selection of legislators, who are on the brink of presenting a bill aimed at legalizing both casinos and a state lottery in the style of Las Vegas.
The legislative body in Montgomery has been introduced to the initial draft of the bill aimed at broadening the state’s gaming horizons. This proposal outlines the creation of up to seven terrestrial commercial casinos, equipped with a variety of gambling options including slot machines, table games, and facilities for sports betting.
In a significant inclusion, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Alabama’s sole federally recognized Native American tribe, would be granted permission to offer these gambling services on their lands in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka. These areas currently host bingo-based electronic gaming machines. Additionally, the tribe would be allowed to establish a fourth gaming venue in the state’s northern region, strategically positioned to draw visitors from neighboring Tennessee and Georgia, states that are also without casinos.
The legislation aims to set up a nine-member Alabama Gaming Commission to oversee these developments. However, the final decision on the introduction of gambling will rest in the hands of Alabama’s citizens, as the bill proposes a statewide referendum to amend the Alabama Constitution accordingly.
The legislative team spearheading this initiative includes Representatives Andy Whitt, Chris Blackshear, and Sam Jones, alongside State Senator Greg Albritton, who is championing the bill in the Senate. A recent press conference saw Whitt advocating for the public’s right to have their say on the matter, highlighting the bill’s potential to eradicate illegal gambling operations and generate a new tax revenue stream for the state.
Under the proposed legislation, casinos’ gross revenues would be taxed at 24%, while sports betting revenues would incur a 17% tax. Projections estimate that the state could benefit from an annual revenue boost of between $802 million and $1 billion from casino and lottery operations.
This move represents a significant pivot in Alabama’s approach to gambling, potentially transforming the state’s economic landscape and offering new entertainment options to its residents and visitors alike.
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