At least one member of the Alabama legislature has no intention to wait for Governor Kay Ivey’s study into how gambling could affect the state. Senator Greg Albritton introduced a bill that would provide the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) a monopoly over all gambling rights, eliminating competition and binding the state to an agreement with the tribe.
The introduction of this bill came on the same day that the Governor’s Study Group on Gambling Policy held their initial meeting. It would grant the Porch Creeks complete rights to casino-style gaming. This would include slots, roulette, blackjack, and other table games. It would also give the tribe exclusive rights over sports betting and video lottery terminals.
The bill would allow two new casinos to be built in Alabama, specifically in Jefferson County and northern Alabama. The senator explained that the two additional sites would not be on tribal land. “The two new sites would be completely governed as any other corporation or business would be.”
In addition to giving the PCI these rights, it would ban all bingo machines except at tribal facilities, and would impose steep taxes and new licensing fees on all dog tracks. As part of the agreement, the Porch Creeks and promise that $1 billion would be funneled into the Alabama Department of Revenue.
The legislation immediately drew the ire of several members of the Alabama legislature as well as the governor’s office. Although the bill has no chance of passing, some insiders were bothered that Albritton would propose the bill at all when Ivey made it clear she wants to study the matter first. They also note that it does almost nothing for Alabama’s bottom line.
The Alabama Constitution bans any type of gambling within the state. The only way that the bill could legally pass is if an amendment was made to the Constitution that would grant them a special exemption. This would require a referendum, should the bill become law.
Albritton is hoping that the new legislation can pass in time for the constitutional amendment to be brought before the voters in November.
Needless to say, Ivey is likely not happy about this legislation. She opened the 2020 Alabama state legislative session by calling on a panel to review the effect that legalized gambling would have on the state. This was expected to take many months, making it unlikely that any amendment would reach voters by November of this year.