Crime pays in Alabama

Published 4:46 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

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By Stephanie Holden Smith

President/CEO of Alabama Policy Institute

Though the Senate’s stated aim was to limit the number of casinos in the state, the net effect of the legislation is the legalization of seven specific casinos that have been illegally operating plus the three PCI (Poarch Creek Indian) locations for a total of at least 10 casinos, an expansion of government with the creation of an appointed gambling commission (that has the ability to change the definition of gambling themselves), and the creation of a state-operated lottery whose stated goal is to maximize profits off the losses of others. 

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The bills require the Governor to negotiate a contract with the Poarch Creek Indian tribe and changed the date of a possible vote of the people for this casino legalization/expansion bill to a special election on Sept. 10 of this year. 

Revenue from gambling through the monetary losses of fellow citizens wouldn’t be designated for scholarships for anyone’s kids or grandkids. The money would be separated into thirds (General Fund, Education Trust Fund, and AL Department of Transportation projects) and put into the queue for legislative appropriations. An amendment was added on the floor to recalculate and segregate certain revenues to pay for prisons. In short, gambling money will be used to fund legislative whims and will further expand the power and scope of state government.

Senate Republicans split their vote: 12 Republicans voted NO or abstained on both bills. 15 Republicans joined with all 7 Senate Democrats to vote for the expansion and legalization. The Republican/Democrat coalition added up to 22 YES votes. There were 21 votes needed, so the bills passed the Senate.

The debate isn’t over as the Senate passed bills must return to the House for concurrence. If/when the House disagrees with Senate changes, a conference committee attempts to develop a compromise bill. That new bill would then have to meet approval by both houses. 

For more information on Alabama’s gambling legislation and other issues important in the state, visit