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‘Gambling will work’ in Alabama, Ivey’s study group leader says

800-page report lays out findings of Study Group on Gambling Policy Ivey created in February
Updated: Dec. 18, 2020 at 12:47 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The governor’s Study Group on Gambling Policy has finalized its work and has issued an 800-page report on the matter for Gov. Kay Ivey to review.

Ivey created the group by executive order in February with the goal of looking at gambling’s impact on Alabama. She said Friday morning her team is pouring over the findings, and she encouraged state legislators and all Alabamians to do the same.

[READ THE FULL REPORT]

“I believe their research will be pivotal as gambling policies are being considered, debated, and potentially voted on,” Ivey stated.

Former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, who is the chair of the study group, held a news conference on the steps of the Capitol where he said “Alabama is coming late to this gambling party.”

The group projects a lottery, casino gaming, and sports betting would bring in about $700 million annually while just a lottery would produce between $200 to $300 million.

Strange said no conclusion was made on how that money would be used, but the group did look into what other states do with the revenue, and more than half use the money for education purposes.

“Gambling will work in the state of Alabama,” Strange said, stating that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Strange and the study group believe Alabama has five options:

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Prohibit gambling but incorporate a regulatory authority.
  3. Allow a lottery but nothing else.
  4. Limited gambling. (Limited in the type, venue and location)
  5. Full gambling, which is Class-3 in all of its facets, under a single regulatory authority.

Ivey said there has been a “seemingly endless debate on gambling in Alabama” and she created the group to “allow public officials and the people of our state to make the most informed decision possible, should we decide to pursue legislation to deal with this issue.”

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper), released a statement thanking Ivey and the group for the findings.

“I believe it is time to address this issue, and it appears the report from the Governor’s Gaming Commission supports that position,” Marsh said.

“Regardless of where one stands on the gaming issue, you have to recognize that Alabama has an inconsistent patchwork of laws and virtually no regulatory structure in place to deal with the gaming facilities operating here today,” Reed added.

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