Siegelman: Lottery not enough, casinos necessary to balance budget

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(WIAT) — Former Governor Don Siegelman has continued to speak out on Governor Robert Bentley’s lottery proposal with the release of a letter calling for casinos to be added to the lottery plan.

Siegelman states in his letter, which is excerpted below, that there will be a pull from many other regions of the country into the state. Siegelman also believes that by waiting this long, we have allowed Mississippi to “pick our pockets.”

Additionally, Siegelman also believes that it is necessary to require the lottery proposal to be rewritten to direct the money to an education trust fund for free higher education, pre-school and classroom technology.

Read the letter, and let us know what you think about Siegelman’s ideas:TO RAISE MONEY WITHOUT RAISING TAXES: “Alabama must raise the stakes”. Casinos: A lottery alone won’t do it.Two points on Governor Bentley’s proposed lottery.1.) The Bentley Proposal Is not what he says it is. Governor Bentley says the lottery money is to fund Medicaid, yet his proposed constitutional amendment allows the lottery proceeds to be squandered by the legislature on themselves, to fund retirement benefits, or pay for sprucing up Governor Bentley’s million dollar Gulf Shores beach mansion.[…]2.) Alabama’s proposed lottery comes after all surrounding states have a lottery, and the Mississippi casinos picked our pockets. The only way for a lottery to work now is if we raise the stakes, and casinos come to Alabama too.While running for reelection, I explained why Alabama citizens should be allowed to vote on casinos. {Jack Abramoff, in his book, “Capitol Punishment”, admits that I was a “threat” to the Mississippi gaming monopoly, that he “war-gamed aggressive tactic(s) to stop Siegelman [with Mike Scanlon a former staffer of Bob Riley’s]…at a cost of approximately $20,000,000 to the tribe.” First, Mobile and Baldwin county have paid the economic price. It’s clearly time to allow competing casinos in downtown Mobile and on the Causeway between Mobile and Spanish Fort. Casinos in Mobile and Baldwin Counties would level the playing field with Biloxi, bringing in visitors on I-65 and I-10 from as far away as Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida.Allowing casinos on the Alabama River in Selma, would create jobs and income for the Black Belt. Casinos on the Alabama River in downtown Montgomery, with the confluence of Interstate I-65 and I-80, would bring visitors from the Northeastern states, the Carolinas, Nashville, and Atlanta. Adding casinos in downtown Birmingham, with I-65, I-59, I-22, and I-20, would bring citizens from all over the Southeast and Midwest and even citizens from Mississippi. If voters and the newly establish Gaming Commission approve, additional casinos might be appropriate in north Alabama and Dothan.But first, voters should require the Bentley Lottery proposal to be rewritten to direct all money to the Alabama Education Trust Fund for free higher education, free Pre-school, and classroom technology.Secondly, casinos should be written into the proposal.To raise money for Alabama’s real needs, such as proper funding of Medicaid, citizens must tell their legislators to raise the stakes by allowing a county by county vote on casinos in the same election as the lottery proposal.Finally, the lottery proposal should not take the place of real tax reform and should, to the extent possible, open the door to sports betting, resurrect The Alabama Downs thoroughbred horse racing at The Track in Birmingham, and ensure that Alabamians can purchase “Mega-Ball” or “Power-Ball” lottery jackpot tickets in Alabama. And at the least, simulcast betting and slot machines, should be authorized for Victoryland, and other existing dog tracks.Don E. SiegelmanGovernor of Alabama, 1999-2003

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