Senior lawmakers in Alabama are seeking to introduce measures to establish a gaming regulator to stamp out illegal operations in the state.
As part of a wider program to introduce legalized gaming to the state, lawmakers state that first there must be a way to ensure that those operating illegally can be stamped out.
The Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter and Rep Andy Whitt have joined forces to explore the opportunity to form a gaming commission in the state.
Courtesy of an AL.com report, Speaker Ledbetter said: “We have to fix it. We have to regulate it. It’s already here. It’s no longer about gaming, but fixing the problem we got. I think the fact of the matter is we’ll reduce gambling tremendously if we pass something to regulate.”
Reports suggest that there are up to 77 illegal gaming operations in Alabama that must be shut down. Recently, 14 operations were closed down as law enforcement clamps down on black market gambling facilities.
Establishing a regulator is seen as necessary in taking steps to bring legalized gaming to Alabama, a state traditionally opposed to gambling given its conservative and religious strongholds.
Alabama does not have any form of regulated, commercial gaming, so any facility that does offer betting or gaming is operating outside of state law.
Whitt stated that, as of now, the state is losing the battle to control this and a regulator must be brought in to tackle the growing issue.
He stated: “When a person can walk into a convenience store that is only a few blocks from our State’s Capitol and purchase a scratch off ticket, then yeah, we have a big problem.”
It has been an almighty struggle to legislate for legalized gaming in Alabama after numerous attempts over the years. However the state Democrats are attempting to bring forward legislation in 2024.
House Minority leader Anthony Daniels hopes for an agreement to be reached in the statehouse for further gambling provisions in the state to help boost the state economy.
Daniels said that sports betting, lottery and casinos would be on the table under his proposals next year.
He stated: “We’re going to talk about proceed revenue sharing, folks from Tennessee, folks from Georgia, vendors that deal with the lottery, so that our members will be able to get a full picture.
“Pro-growth means pro-Alabama, looking at ways to improve where we are.”
However, given the Republicans have a strong majority in the Alabama state house, these more radical measures are likely to die once again.
Yet, given that key Republican figures are openly talking about gaming and establishing a regulator, there could still be movement on that front moving forward.
Currently, Alabama has just three tribal casinos