HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - There’s been a lot of back and forth this legislative session regarding the creation of lottery, and expanding casino gaming.
If the newest gaming bill passes the House, it will be on the ballot for your vote in 2022.
Casino style gaming, sports betting and a lottery: it’s all in Senate Bill 319 , which senators passed Tuesday.
But that was also in Senate Bill 214 which failed to pass.
So what’s changed?
SB 319 allows for casino gaming at six sites in Alabama, instead of five, including DeKalb or Jackson County, and adds Houston County to the list.
State Senator Sam Givhan says the key difference is competitive bidding.
Senate Bill 214 did not allow for people to bid for the licenses to run casinos at those locations.
“That owner would absolutely be the licensee. No one else could bid on it, no one else could try to get it, that person was going to get it,” Givhan said.
319 changes that.
“Lets say a Harrah’s or an MGM would come in and bid on that site. Now the downside is, and what I would consider to be a fundamental flaw, is that it’s got to be on that site. Well MGM or Harrah’s don’t own that property. They don’t have an option to buy that property, so it would force them to go in and kind of negotiate with the owner of the land, should they win they bid,” he explained.
Givhan says he voted against the bill because he doesn’t believe gaming is what’s best for the state.
“You know what we’ve got here is a casino bill that has a lottery as bait for the voters so that the voters will pass this when it comes up for a vote, assuming the house passes it,” Givhan said.
The bill also allows the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to operate the location in north Alabama, and offer full service gaming at their existing casinos as well.
“As long as we limit the amount of gaming in the state of Alabama, have that competitive tax rate, know that we have license fees associated with it. And we create tourist destination resorts, I think everybody in the state of Alabama, it could be something they’re proud of,” says Robert McGhee, with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.