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Alabama Casino Bill Fails To Garner Support In The House

A Debate Over Using Funds From Gambling To Expand Medicaid Ultimately Killed The Bill

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A bill that could’ve brought a state lottery, sports betting and casinos to Alabama likely died in the state’s House of Representatives late last week.

The Senate passed SB 319 last month and it moved to the house. The bill would give citizens in the state the ability to vote in November 2022 on whether the state should amend the constitution and implement expanded gambling activities in Alabama. It would also allow the state to enter into a gaming compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The legislation was originally killed in the Senate after it failed to pass a vote but passed on a second attempt. It seemed like it was primed to pass in the lower chamber, but it never was put up for a vote.

According to AL.com, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon pulled it from consideration, claiming that it did not have enough votes to pass. The bill needed bipartisan support to obtain the 60% majority needed for a bill that requires a constitutional amendment.

In the weeks leading up to what was supposed to be a vote, Democrats tried to alter the bill and were negotiating with Republicans to insert language that would explicitly use some of the money generated to expand Medicaid. The two parties couldn’t agree and ultimately the bill was pulled.

Republicans then tried to vote on a lottery-only bill at the last minute, but most Democrats argued that they didn’t have enough time to read the bill. That bill was never voted on either.

After Thursday’s proceedings, the House adjourned, leaving just one more available day in the current legislative session. The group will return on May 17 for the final day and McCutcheon said that it was unlikely that the bill is unlikely to pass, especially since it would have to go back to the Senate to approve the changes.

“I can’t say that we will not try to address it. But I can say that because of the bill and the way it is, it’s going to be doubtful,” said McCutcheon. “It’s going to be difficult to get it passed now, at such a late date.”