Should Alabama expand gambling laws?


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Wednesday, the newly introduced state gambling bill was introduced to the Senate Tourism Committee.

Senate Bill 214 would allow 5 locations across the state to have casino-style gaming.

In Jefferson County, the Birmingham Race Course is one of those five locations. If the bill passes the legislature, it goes to a vote of the people. For those that frequent the racecourse, it’s no surprise, many were in favor of the bill.

“I think it’d be great for everybody,” said Maurice Solley, a regular at the race course.

Others that were playing their luck said the state should have made this change a long time ago.

“The state is stupid not to require that they have table games because that puts people to work,” said Eilieen Kacmarynski.

The bill would allow slot machines, video lottery, poker, blackjack and more.

Less than 2 miles down the road is the Guiding Light Church. Bishop Jim Lowe said the legislation should be written with the consequences in mind.

“Money should be set aside for the unintended social and economic consequences that will come as a result of gamblers,” said Lowe.

Studies show approximately 1% of adults have a severe gambling problem. Lowe wants some of the revenue to go into helping those with gambling addiction, as well as to do away with the state’s grocery tax.

Others argue that gambling is everywhere and its time Alabama cashed in.

“I mean, that’s anywhere, people can drive somewhere else and do it,” said Desmond Baity. “So, it doesn’t matter if it’s at home or somewhere else, if someone wants to do it, they’re going to do it.”

Following the bill announcement, the race course released the following statement:

We appreciate the hard work of Sen. Marsh and others to give the voters of Alabama the opportunity to vote on and resolve this issue.  Every state around Alabama has significant gaming, and it is past time for our state to be able to capture this money and use it to support education, broadband, healthcare for rural areas, and many other badly needed services.  If passed, we expect this bill will create thousands of new jobs and add hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy — money that is currently going to other states in our region.  We are reviewing the bill and will monitor the process moving forward, but we want to make it clear that the people of Alabama should have the right to make the final decision on this important opportunity for our state.

Lewis Benefield, president of Birmingham Race Course and Victoryland

Alabamians have not voted on a lottery or expanded gambling since 1999. Senator Del Marsh said this bill will not go to the Senate floor for a vote until the end of the month.


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