Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, Alabama lottery / casino bill

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh: ““Hundreds of millions of Alabama dollars are going to Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia to play in their lotteries, their casinos,” he says. (Image: al.com)

Gambling reforms are underway in Alabama thanks to the efforts of Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, whose bill, SB 453, seeks to establish a state lottery as well as legalize gambling at the state’s four greyhound tracks.

Del Marsh launched his legislative push just days after a study he commissioned himself concluded that gambling expansion could generate up to $400 million for the state.

The study, conducted by the Auburn University of Montgomery, also found that gambling expansion would create around 11,000 jobs in Alabama.

Del Marsh is promoting SB 454 as a viable alternative to the $541 million tax hike proposed by Governor Robert Bentley.

“I say let the people of Alabama vote,” proclaimed Del March. “The choice is clear to me: do you want to raise taxes by $700 million or do want a lottery and casino gaming that will generate $400 million and create 11,000 new jobs without having to raise taxes? The people of Alabama should decide this question for themselves, and nobody else.”

Alabama Dollars

The bill would see a lottery established by the newly-formed Alabama Lottery Corporation, as well as the creation of the Alabama Lottery and Gaming Commission. It would also give Governor Bentley powers to negotiate with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which currently run three casinos and a hotel in Alabama, to expand their operations.

“Hundreds of millions of Alabama dollars are going to Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia to play in their lotteries, their casinos,” complained Del Marsh. “This is creating new jobs for their people, new investments for their towns and cities, new hotels, restaurants, entertainment facilities, new tourism dollars.  

“It is time that Alabama dollars stayed right here in Alabama, creating new jobs for our workers, creating new investments for our businesses, and expanding tourism and opportunities for our towns and cities. We can achieve all that without raising taxes.”

“Ugly Piece of Legislation

The creation of a lottery would require an amendment to the Alabama State Constitution, and as such would require a public vote to pass. But not everyone is as enthused about the legislation as Del Marsh, not least the governor, who described SB 454 as “one of the worst pieces of legislation” he had ever seen.

“The governor seems to think this is an ugly piece of legislation,” Del Marsh retorted. “… From what I’ve seen, it’s a pretty ugly tax package.”

Del Marsh is pushing for a public vote on the issue in September, and says he is confident that most Alabamans would support such legislation.