Casinos are in the wind again in Alabama
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Alabama’s only Indian tribe, has responded positively to the Governor’s new Gambling Advisory Council. The Governor failed to get a lottery through the legislature to solve a budget shortfall in the 2016 session, and is trying again in the new session that begins in February.
The Poarch Band has three electronic Bingo parlors and wants a casino. It says it is willing to share between $50 and $75 million with the state if allowed to open a casino exclusively. Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling testified against the bill citing evidence that it lowers the standard of living for the poorer segment of society that gambles the most. Rep. Craig Ford (D) told Bernal that Alabama already had gambling (Bingo) with the state receiving no benefit. He also dragged out the old chestnut about all the dollars going over the border to states with casinos.
Recent studies show that only 1-2% of a states’ budget comes from gambling and this is an ineffective means of solving shortfalls. Legislatures tend to increase spending by more than the gambling brings in. Alabama has stood firm for years against expanded gambling. The legislative time spent on gambling will dramatically increase if it is approved. Controversy will not go away as the pressure to expand gambling, once approved, increases.