Alabama Politicians hate Gambling – But they may expand it

Alabama Politicians hate Gambling – But they may expand it

Alabama has traditionally been one of the least-tolerant states towards gambling, with politicians in the conservative state often bashing the activity. However, recent reports indicate that the Cotton State may be softening their stance on casino-style gaming.

Republican Del Marsh, president of the State Senate, is trying to get a constitution amendment approved that would institute a lottery, and allow for slots and table games at race tracks.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the House Republicans are in talks with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians about a deal that would see the tribe get exclusive gambling privileges in Alabama at its three casinos, while reserving land for a fourth to be built. In exchange, the Poarch Creek Indians would pay for next year’s state budget deficit, which would be huge when considering Alabama’s $260 million revenue shortfall.

Gov. Robert J. Bentley is a staunch opponent of expanding gambling, instead insisting that raising taxes is the best solution. This is a difficult decision for Bentley because he won re-election by promising no new taxes. However, he’s willing to go against his word to save the jobs of hundreds of court employees, keep state parks open, and avoid taking away assistance for many families.

Marsh is convinced that more casino gaming can save the state and isn’t ready to hike taxes. “Republicans, by and large, aren’t big advocates of gaming,” said Marsh. “But they sure as hell don’t like taxes.”

There’s certainly no guarantee that the state’s Republicans can get gambling expanded or work out a deal with the Poarch Creek Indians. After all, there are plenty of politicians and citizens who don’t approve of gambling in the Bible Belt. Electronic bingo devices have been labeled illegal slots, race tracks have been shut down, casino lobbyists have been indicted for federal bribery (non-guilty verdicts), and the Poarch Creek Indians have even been sued (2013).

Bobby Singleton, a Democratic state senator who’s pro-gambling, has an interesting view on how previous politicians treated gambling. “At the end of the day, I don’t know if they were really anti-gaming as much as pro-getting elected,” said Singleton.

Perhaps with perceptions of gambling changing around the country, now is the time that politicians will actually embrace the activity to get elected and shore up the state’s budget.