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Report: Expanded Gambling Would Bring $700M And 19,000 Jobs To Alabama

The Results Of The Study Requested By Gov. Kay Ivey In February Were Released Friday

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said last February that she wouldn’t think about expanding the already slim gambling options in her state until a study on the topic was completed.

Those findings were released on Friday and it brought nothing but good news for gambling proponents in Alabama. The report concluded that legalized gambling would generate up to $700 million in tax revenue and create 19,000 new jobs, according to a report from the Montgomery Advertiser.

The report arrived at those figures by estimating a state lottery would add $200 to $300 million in taxes, annually, and that revenue from five to seven casinos should bring in between $300 and $400 million. Legalized sports betting would create another $10 million for the state coffers.

Alabama is one of just a handful of states in the country without a lottery. There are a handful of tribal casinos, but the government will not allow them to offer table games of any kind. Those casinos are Class II gaming facilities that are only permitted to offer electronic bingo. Traditional slot machines and table games would require a Class III license.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was growing support for the issue in the legislature. Republican Rep. Steve Clouse said he was going to introduce a bill to allow for a lottery and estimated that it would bring in $167 million in tax revenue.

While the legislature was warming up to the idea, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians began pushing for a gaming compact with the state. With the issue gaining traction, Ivey decided she wanted more information.

When Ivey stated that she wanted a study done, she created The Study Group on Gambling, which was led by former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. The report noted that expanding the gambling market brings a possibility of increased crime and other costs to deal with a rise in problem gambling.

In a press conference, Strange said that there would be social costs to allowing traditional casino gambling in the state, but that the benefits outweighed the negatives.

“Gambling will work in the state of Alabama, and we feel that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in that endeavor,” said Strange. “There is $600 to $700 million that start and stabilizes growth. There are new jobs that are twice what the per capita income is on an annual basis.”

After the results were released, Ivey still wouldn’t take a hard stance one way or the other.

“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,” said Ivey in a statement.

Many states that were previously without or with few options for gambling have been warming up to the idea of legalizing it, especially as options for tax revenues remain slim. Just last month, citizens of Virginia and Nebraska voted to legalize casinos in the state. Before the election, both states were without traditional gambling options.