MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Some state lawmakers expect to see gaming legislation during the upcoming legislative session.
Gaming bills were not a focus of the 2023 session, but that could change this next year.
New Senate Majority Leader Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) said as his caucus figures out policy priorities, gaming bills are likely to be in the mix.
“There is a gaming bill likely to come in some capacity,” Livingston said. “We need to prioritize these based on what our caucus members would like to see and put those out.”
Efforts in the statehouse have stalled over the last few decades to pass legislation that would put the gaming question up to voters. Lawmakers would need to pass a constitutional amendment for citizens to vote on to legalize the activity.
Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) has sponsored gaming bills over the last several years and has said he plans to bring one next year. He’s said the revenue could be an answer to the ballooning prison construction costs in Elmore County.
“The gaming bill would produce probably close to a billion dollars every year, which would help the revenue and help us continue on even if a recession were to occur,” Albritton said.
The revenue could also go toward infrastructure, education or health care needs, according to Rep. Sam Jones (D-Mobile), who chaired a committee that spent months studying the impact of legalizing gaming in Alabama.
Jones points out that one-time federal COVID-19 relief dollars are drying up soon, and gaming revenue would help ease that funding cliff.
“That revenue will not be present in the future, but there are tremendous needs that we need to address, and we think that the revenue from gaming will be a great way to approach some of those long-term needs within the state,” Jones said.
Jones stresses that there would need to be bipartisan discussions on a gaming bill for the legislation to have a chance at passing.
Alabama is one of five states without legal gaming.