Gambling proposal bills have been assigned to committees

Gambling proposal in Alabama House's hands

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The clock is ticking for Alabama House lawmakers to take up the gambling package the Senate passed last week.

The Alabama Senate passed a proposal Thursday to a lottery and regulate nine casinos.

State lawmakers are faced with the enormous task of getting a gambling bill through the state Legislature but time is running out.

“This is so big and so comprehensive. We need to get it right,” said Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix, who is carrying the bill in the House.

House lawmakers have less than a month left in the legislative session to approve a gambling proposal. The last possible day for session is May 17.

“But I’m just a firm believer in allowing the citizens to vote and we don’t get a lot of chances,” Blackshear said.

But Blackshear is facing a time crunch to convince House lawmakers to support the package of bills.

Passing a gambling package is expected to be an uphill battle in the House. Some lawmakers don’t want gambling at all, others just want a lottery, and other lawmakers say it’s time to address casinos as well.

Some Lowndes County leaders spoke out against the proposal Tuesday. That’s because the proposal does not allow Lowndes County to operate a casino.

“How can we forcibly close the doors of a business in an impoverished county like Lowndes County?” said Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville.

There is no date set yet on when the gambling proposal would be in committee, however, Blackshear said the four-bill package has been assigned to different committees. Blackshear said the constitutional amendment and SB310 to set up the Alabama Gaming Commission will be in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee. SB309, which sets up the lottery and scholarships will be in the Ways and Means Education Committee and SB311 will be in the House State Government Committee.

Blackshear said the earliest time it could be in committee is next week.

If the House approved this constitutional amendment allowing gambling, Alabamians would then have a chance to vote on it.

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