It seems that every week there is a new state looking to expand gaming options or pass a new law allowing for some new form of gambling.
This time it is lawmakers in the state of Alabama leading the charge, and there appears to be plenty of optimism.
The Alabama State Senate recently approved an expanded gambling package that would legalize a state-run lottery and commercial gambling in the state. There are only a handful of states without a lottery, and Alabama is hoping to leave that group.
Senators approved the measure with a 23-9 vote, and it will now head to the House of Representatives for additional discussion. The bill could be amended by representatives before it is taken up for an official vote.
If passed, Alabama would be able to establish an intra-state lottery system, and nine commercial casinos would be approved as well. At those casino sites, sports betting could be offered along with the traditional casino games.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians currently offers Class II gaming at three locations in the state, and they would be eligible to receive three of the new licenses. The other six casino licenses would be up for bid in six different counties throughout the state.
According to this proposal, the gross gaming revenue from casino gaming and sports betting would be subject to a tax of 20 percent. Lawmakers have yet to determine how this new tax revenue would be used, but that would be decided before these games are able to be offered.
Republican Governor Kay Ivey has expressed support for adding new gaming options in the state, and that could give lawmakers the push that is needed. Connecticut is another state that has expressed an interest in legalizing online casinos and sports betting.
Lawmakers Hoping Voters Approve
This is not the first time that lawmakers have looked to expand gaming options in the state of Alabama, but it is the first time it has been done this century. In 1999, lawmakers wanted to legalize a state lottery, but voters shut the whole process down by voting against the referendum.
Back in 1999, there were gambling restrictions in place in many states throughout the US, but that has changed dramatically since that time. There are many states with more strict gambling laws than Alabama that have voted to approve gaming expansion in recent years.
Virginia and Arkansas now both offer legal sports betting, and commercial casino operations have been approved as well. There are five new casinos being built in the state of Virginia, and that is one of the least progressive states in the United States.
If this measure is able to pass through the House, then voters will have the final say in November. A referendum will be placed on the ballots, and it will require a simple majority to become a new constitutional amendment.
Lawmakers are convinced that they have enough support this time around to get a positive result in the polls. The first step is getting this measure passed through both chambers of the legislature before letting the public decide.