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Alabama Casino Bill Dies In Senate

The Legislation Fell Two Votes Shy Of Two-Thirds Majority Needed To Pass

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The bill that could’ve brought casinos, sports betting and a state lottery to Alabama was killed in the Senate Tuesday.

SB 214, a bill sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh that would amend the state’s constitution to allow those forms of gambling, fell two votes shy of passing and will not head to the House for another vote. Since it was dealing with the state constitution, the proposal 60% of the 35 members to vote in favor of it. Only 19 members voted yes on the bill.

The bill unanimously passed through the Senate Tourism Committee by an 11-0 margin, but Marsh couldn’t sway all of his fellow Republicans on the floor to vote for the bill. According to a report from AL.com, about half of the GOP voted against it.

The bill would have ultimately given citizens the final say on the issue by making the issue a ballot initiative for the 2022 election season. It would’ve taxed casinos 20% on gross gambling revenue, which would’ve been used to expand access to high-speed internet across the state.

The bill’s failure to pass comes just a few days after a lawsuit was filed against Marsh, claiming that he created a “pay to play” scheme with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Marsh’s bill called for Gov. Kay Ivey to enter into a gaming compact with the tribe.

Since late 2019, the tribe has been lobbying for the governor to enter into an agreement with them to offer casino gambling in the state. Ivey said that she wouldn’t sign anything until a study was completed. The study’s results were released last December and it said that expanded gambling would bring 19,000 jobs and $700 million in tax revenue to the state.

After the report was completed, Ivey seemed open to signing any gambling legislation that reached her desk. She told local media that she was involved in shaping Marsh’s legislation.

“For weeks, I have worked closely with Senator Marsh and others on this legislation which could be transformative if done right,” said Ivey in a statement. “While I believe more work needs to be done, moving the bill through the legislative process is a vital step. My commitment remains the same: to let the people of Alabama have the final say on a good bill that, once and for all, addresses a long-standing challenge that has faced our state.”

Marsh sponsored three other bills that would create a regulatory framework for any possible lottery, casino and sports betting markets. Those bills will still go through the legislative process, but a new bill would be needed to possibly amend the constitution.