Gambling expansion in Alabama passes first test

Alabama voters have not had their say on a lottery since 1999.
Alabama voters have not had their say on a lottery since 1999.

Alabama senators have spoken in favour of a bill to expand gambling in the state.

US.-  Alabama state senators have begun discussing proposals to create a state lottery, approve sports betting and allow up to five casinos.

The possibility of adding more casinos was also suggested. Republican Senator Del Marsh of Anniston, who presented the bill, said he was open to that possibility and other changes.

If the proposal is finally approved by 60 per cent of both chambers of the legislature, voters will have the final decision.

Last time Alabama voters expressed their opinion about on a lottery was when they rejected Govenor Don Siegelman’s proposal in 1999.

Although Marsh did not ask for a vote on the bill today, he said he wanted to begin discussions.

“I firmly believe that the people of Alabama want to address this gaming issue, once and for all,” he said.

The cost of licences was one of the topics of debate. Senator Rodger Smitherman supported the measure but expressed concerns about US$100m licence fee for the Birmingham casino.

The cost of licences would vary based on the population of the area and the length of the licence.

Marsh also said the bill would allow sports betting at casinos or online through an authorised internet platform.

The debate will resume on February 23 when senators return from a one-week break.

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