Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced on February 14, that she had chosen the study group which will investigate gambling expansion within the state. By the end of this year, the 12 member group will investigate and submit a report drawing their conclusions about how expanding gambling, with lotteries and casinos, will impact Alabama.
The announcement was made on February 4, in Ivey’s State of the State address. Todd Strange, former Montgomery Mayor will lead the group of 12. Several items will be addressed in the report, including the amount of revenue new games and facilities will bring to the state, along with what other effects these facilities will have.
As reported by calvinayre.com, Gov. Ivey made it clear during the State of the State address, that she is looking for specific details of how Alabama will be affected by gambling expansion: “I am committed to, once and for all, getting the facts so that the people of Alabama can make an informed decision on what has been a hotly debated topic for many years. Without a doubt, there will be ramifications if we eventually expand gaming options in our state just as there are costs associated with doing nothing.”
As the report will not be issued until December, it almost definitely means that this year no legislation will be passed to let voters make a decision on gambling expansion. Still the sponsors of the bill in the House will attempt to push forward some initiative, hoping that this year the referendum will get on the ballot.
House Ways and Means General Fund committee chair Steve Clouse, R-Ozark said, “If we wait until Dec. 31, we’ve missed the November election. It’s the most highly participated election in the state in a presidential year. We’ve got the factor of a hotly contested U.S. Senate race. The time to do a lottery is this November.”
Alabama is the only state left in the deep south which does not offer some type of a statewide lottery. There is electronic bingo at Indian-run facilities and dog tracks, and extensive gambling facilities are already offered by three of the neighboring states to Alabama. It could fall far behind in possible revenue if the state doesn’t act quickly.