Alabama Senate waits to vote on gambling bill

Alabama Senate begins debating proposed lottery bill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Senate spent more than an hour debating a gambling proposal Thursday afternoon.

The senators did not vote on the bill, but instead bill sponsor Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, asked to receive feedback from colleagues.

“I think I could have passed the bill today,” Marsh said in a press conference after the debate. “But what I’m trying to do is make this process as open and everybody can say they’ve been included.”

The bill would give people the chance to vote on a lottery proposal. It would also allow five predetermined locations in Alabama to offer casino-style games like blackjack and slot machines.

Several lawmakers on the Senate floor said they were concerned about other towns not having the opportunity to have a casino.

“What about other locations?” Sen. Jim McClendon said on the floor. “I have one of my mayors in St. Clair County call me and say we’re right on I-20 and we’re in between Birmingham and Atlanta and we draw a lot of people.”

Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, echoed a similar sentiment.

“Southeast Alabama was left out,” he said. “The Dothan area.”

Marsh said he needs a finite number of casinos to pass the legislation through the legislature. Marsh is open to the gaming commission selecting two more sites for casinos.

The proposal would put money toward places including mental health, college scholarships, and broadband. It would bring in about $700 million each year, according to Marsh.

State lawmakers will not be in session next week. But Senator Marsh said he plans to bring the bill back up after the break. He wants to use the off week to receive feedback.

If lawmakers passed the gambling bill, the proposal would go to the people for a vote.

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