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Alabama Lottery and Casino Expansion Bill likely Dead, as House Reps Clash

Published: May 7, 2021, 08: 55 hrs.

Last updated: May 7, 2021, 05: 35 h.

Devin O'Connor

Chances are Alabama voters will be asked next November if they want to legalize, grow the state lottery and add more casinos, including full-scale gaming with traditional slot machines and table games.

Alabama lottery casino bill
The Alabama House of Representatives is in session above. State lawmakers had a busy legislative day yesterday, but couldn't come to an agreement on the possible expansion of casino gambling and the legalization of lotteries. (Photo: AL.com )

Senate Bill 319 passed the Alabama Senate last month by 23 - 9 votes. But the game expansion package faced much more controversy in the state's lower legislative chamber.

Last night, House Representatives engaged in a heated debate. Republicans accused Democrats of trying to make last-minute changes to the lottery and gaming. Democrats accused Republicans of introducing a lottery-only statute without their knowledge or input before it came to the floor.

Tensions were high because people were working so hard. Everyone was just very upset with the way things were going ", House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-District

) he told reporters.

As for Republicans who quickly drafted a lottery proposal that didn't include more casinos and legalized commercial gambling, McCutcheon said there was no ill will.

back. We tried to bill the floor, "McCutcheon explained, adding that Alabamans want to at least vote in the lottery.

SB 319 did not come before the House roll call because the GOP-controlled House decided it did not have enough votes.

Game Expansion

Alabama does not currently have any full-service casinos with slot machines and gaming tables. Instead, the only federally recognized tribe, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, owns and operates three Class II casinos.

The tribe's gaming division, Wind Creek Hospitality, has locations in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. The casinos offer only electronic bingo-based slot machines. Although they look and sound similar to slot machines, they differ in that their spin results are based on the casino's entire terminal network. Class III slot machines use an individual random number generator to formulate the outcome.

Many lawmakers believe it's time to let Alabamans decide to reconsider real casino gambling. A vote on gaming hasn't been held since 1999, when residents rejected an attempt to legalize the lottery.

Much has changed in the more than two decades since that vote. Legal sports betting is now widespread across the country, only five states do not operate lotteries, and states still authorize casinos.

Dems displace GOP

Alabama state Senate Democrats said Thursday night that the Republican government's actions have tainted the gaming debate.

If you don't have integrity when you're dealing with games, you have to give it up. And what I saw in that room tonight, there is no integrity anywhere, " stated Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee).

Time is running out as to whether any lottery and/or casino measure will reach voters during the election. The Alabama Legislature has only one day of session remaining on its 2021 calendar.

"It's going to be hard to get past that now." McCutcheon admitted. The only day remaining before the House session ends is Monday, May 17.

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