The first piece of actual legislation that would bring expanded gambling to Alabama unanimously passed through a Senate committee vote, according to a report from Bhamnow, a local media outlet.
SB 214, sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh, would create a ballot initiative to allow voters to amend the state constitution and allow the creation of a state lottery, legalize sports betting and bring five casinos to the state.
The bill unanimously passed through the Senate Tourism Committee by an 11-0 margin. It will head to the Senate for a floor vote. If it passes the Senate, it will head to the House. Since the bill would amend the state constitution, it needs a 60% approval in both chambers of the legislature in order to get on the ballot.
If it achieves the nearly two-thirds necessary to pass, the question will be on the ballot for voters in November 2022.
Over the last several years, there have been a handful of attempts at bringing more gambling to Alabama, including a sports betting bill that was filed in 2019, but died in the legislature. But efforts ramped up in 2020 once the Poarch Band of Creek Indians began pushing for a gaming compact with the state.
In February 2020, Gov. Kay Ivey said that she wouldn’t enter into a compact with the tribe until a study on the effects of gambling was completed. That study was completed at the end of last year which concluded that its legalization would bring $700 million in tax revenue and another 19,000 jobs to the state economy.
A week ago, Ivey said that expanded gambling would require voter approval. Marsh’s bill would satisfy Ivey’s requirement.
The bill outlines the locations of all five casinos, four of which are already existing race tracks. Birmingham Race Course, VictoryLand in Macon County, GreenTrack in Greene County, Mobile Greyhound Park and a fifth location to be named later in either DeKalb or Jackson County.