- The bills would be major changes to the gambling landscape.
- The measures would need support to push past the more conservative lawmakers.
- Casinos would be authorized in areas with bingo-style gaming.
This year seems to be the year that every state is trying to make changes to its gambling legislation. We have seen states like Hawaii and Maryland in the mix, hopeful to expand gambling services.
Alabama has now made the list, with two bills being introduced today that would implement legal casinos, sports betting, and the lottery in the state.
Imploding the Gambling Laws
Representative Chris Blackshear is a supporter of the two measures and stated that the bills essentially take everything in the state and implode it. Alabama is a big conservative state, and any efforts to bring gambling into the mix have failed. Legislators are not able to find a consensus to bring such activities into the state, with lobbies like the Alabama Farmers Federation strongly opposed to the idea.
The state constitution bans lottery gaming and games of chance. There are constitutional amendments that allow for charity gaming, but the new bill would remove those and allow even more gambling options. Casinos would be allowed in limited areas; the lottery, sports betting, bingo, and raffles would also be approved.
Language in the bill states that areas where electronic bingo is already allowed would be home to the new casino venues. This would include Macon, Greene, Houston, Lowndes, Mobile, and Birmingham Counties.
The Poarch Creek Indians would negotiate a compact to create a casino in the northeast portion of the state and include regulations for the tribe’s existing casinos in other areas of the state. The legislation would allow a maximum of seven casino licenses; each license would require a $5 million fee and an initial investment of $35 million.
An Alabama Gaming Commission and a gaming enforcement division would be created to oversee the industry.
Where Would the Money Go?
As far as taxes and revenues are concerned, the bill also covers how much will be paid by operators in Alabama and where the funds will go. The measures will require license holders to pay 24% tax on casino gaming and 17% on sports betting.
Two trust funds would be created to deal with gambling earnings. The Lottery for Education Fund will hold lottery revenues, and the Gaming Trust Fund will hold casino and sports betting earnings.
Taxes paid by the casinos and sportsbooks would be placed in a General Fund Budget Reserve until the balance reaches $300 million. Once it reaches that amount, 95% will go to the Gaming Trust Fund, and 3% will be placed in accounts for the counties that offer casino gaming, and 2% will go towards municipalities where the services are located.