Gov. Kay Ivey’s Gambling Study Group Presents Options but Recommends Expansion of Gambling in Alabama

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Gov. Kay Ivey’s Study Group on Gambling Policy offered five options on gambling at its press conference today (Dec. 18) on the Alabama Capitol steps.

“We feel that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages” for gambling of some sort, said Todd Strange, former Montgomery mayor and chairman of the group of 12 volunteers, at today’s press conference.

Strange stressed that expanding gambling in Alabama would increase employment.

“We know there will be costs” but he said the group felt like they would be manageable with the extra revenue stream that gambling would provide.

OPTIONS, ACCORDING TO STUDY GROUP

The first option he gave was to maintain the status quo.

“Under its current system, Alabama realizes few, if any, benefits of gambling, as there is currently no system for taxing gambling revenue, nor is the State able to designate beneficiaries of gambling proceeds,” the report stated.

Option two would prohibit gambling and provide enforcement, and option three prohibits all gambling except a lottery. Option four would allow limited gambling, and option five would allow full gambling.

“After initial discussions with them regarding their report, I believe their research will be pivotal as gambling policies are being considered, debated and potentially voted on,” said Ivey in a statement released following the press conference. “As my team and I pour over the findings, I encourage the Legislature and the people of Alabama to do the same. The potential to act on gambling is an opportunity that cannot be accomplished solely by a governor or solely by the Legislature. It is incumbent on us to work together to provide the citizens of Alabama their opportunity to determine the future of gambling in Alabama.”

VOTERS WILL DECIDE

Ivey’s statement said the final say is with the people.

“I continue to maintain the final say on gambling belongs to the people of our great state, and if and when I have a recommendation regarding a specific course of action, I will do so in full transparency to the people of Alabama, working hand-in-hand with the Alabama Legislature.”

Ivey formed the group in February with an executive order. The group included leaders in health, business and politics, Ivey said, and was charged with gathering the “facts” about gambling in Alabama and exploring how an expansion of gambling would impact the state.

“This is a brand-new function for the state of Alabama,” Strange said. “The governance must be adapted. You’ve got to have a single authority that can regulate and administer and enforce. You’ve got to trust that system.”

Strange said if formed, the people within the organization running any kind of gambling should have the “highest ethical standards.”

Alabama is one of only a few states with no lottery. Operating under federal law, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians runs casinos in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. Electronic bingo operators have been in constant battle with the state over the legality of their operations.

Read the study group’s report by clicking here: https://governor.alabama.gov/assets/2020/12/FINAL-GSGGP-GAMBLING-REPORT.pdf

Article reprinted with permission from TAB Media (tabonline.org).

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