Alabama Gambling Bill Update: Opponents Hold Firm as Clock Ticks

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Alabama Gambling Bill Update: Opponents Hold Firm as Clock Ticks
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Greg Albritton was one of three senators who flipped to no votes (C:

As time runs out on the state’s legislative session, the Alabama Senate remains one vote short of passing a lottery and gambling bill, and opponents are holding their ground despite outside pressure to give voters a say on the legislation. 

On Tuesday, the Senate could only muster 20 votes for a package of two bills that would allow voters to vote on a constitutional amendment in August, one short of the 60 percent threshold needed in the 35-member body. The bill had

PCI Comes Out Against Latest Legislation, Supports Lottery

The bill would establish a lottery in the state, along with allowing for electronic games at seven existing racetracks and bingo halls throughout the state. 

It would also require the Governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI). There is, as yet, no indication of legalizing casino sites in the state.

But while the PCI would potentially gain access to gambling on its lands with this bill, the tribal group still says it is opposed to the bill.

“We, like so many others in our state, are deeply concerned that the bill currently being considered in the Senate will be passed and have disastrous long-term impacts on Alabamians,” the PCI said in a statement on Thursday.

“Among our most serious concerns are provisions in the bill that would open the door to a mass expansion of ‘games’ powered by artificial intelligence that mimic, with frightening accuracy, Las Vegas casino offerings including poker, roulette, and other Class III games.”

The PCI did say it would support a more limited bill.

“We continue to support a lottery and are optimistic that our legislature will find a way to pass a clear and complete gaming bill that regulates, controls and taxes gaming businesses and that also reflects the values of our state,” the PCI statement read. 

Issues with how the PCI is treated in the gambling bill may explain at least some of the opposition in the Senate. Three Republican state senators who previously supported a gambling bill in March flipped to no votes on Tuesday, including Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), who was part of the conference committee negotiating a compromise bill between the two chambers. 

However, Albritton told reporters that he still has concerns about the legislative package. In particular, he pointed out that the latest version of the bill eliminated language that would have also allowed the PCI to open a casino on non-tribal land in Northeast Alabama.

“That’s absent from this,” Albritton said, via “Not only is it absent, but there is very restrictive language so that it could not occur.”

Donald Trump Jr. Tweets About Alabama Gambling Bill

The opposition to the gambling bill made some national news on Thursday, as Donald Trump Jr. – son of former president Donald Trump – .

“I’m excited to be in Alabama next week for a fundraiser for my dad, but whenever I ask anyone from there what’s going on in the state this is all they talk about,” Trump said, speaking of the gambling bill.

“[Why is] their Senate refusing to let the people vote on a clear bill to legalize the lottery and fund education when 45 states already do it?”

The lack of a “clean” bill that would simply legalize a lottery has been an ongoing question for many Alabama voters, as there seems to be broad support for an educational lottery in the state. 

“There are a lot of elements here,” Alabama State Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) told reporters on Thursday. 

“There are a lot of stakeholders in the process. The most important stakeholder, to me, is the people of Alabama. If we bring something to the Senate floor as we did, we have to feel confident about it, we have to make sure it’s exactly what we want and what we think is best.”

With the state legislature set to end the 2024 legislative session as early as next week, and no Senator who voted against the bill on Tuesday indicating they may change their vote, time appears to be running out yet again for Alabama gambling. But Reed says there’s still a chance until the sessions ends. 

“Many times until you get right down to the last minute you don’t exactly know where you are and that’s part of the process,” Reed told reporters. “All I can say is we’re continuing to debate, continuing to work, and continuing to discuss it.”