Is Alabama Next In Line For Expanding Legal Gambling?
The number of proponents for the expansion of legalize gambling continues to grow in the state of Alabama. Their passion has begun to spring up with organizations that champion this cause. Specifically, the Alabama Jobs Foundation headed by three powerful men in the state. They include Pay Dye the former coach of Auburn University, Charles McCrary retired Alabama Power Co. CEO, and Raymond Harbert a local business man. The goal they share is for the citizens in Alabama to be given the chance to decide the question to legalized gambling. This includes having lottery drawings, scratch tickets, and casino games. The rationale for this passion are jobs and revenue that the state’s economy needs desperately.
Should the citizens decide the legal gambling question?
Online slots have become ubiquitous with the advent of the internet. This has changed the attitudes of most Americans. There are even phone apps with slots for fun or real money. Recently, Mr. McCrary penned an opinion piece in an Alabama newspaper reviewing his group’s point of view and mission. He stresses the fact that more states are utilizing the revenues from their gambling enterprise to bolster budgets. In addition, citizens of the state already engage in this activity further demonstrating it is well over due. McCrary wants to keep the monies in the state instead of it going to its neighbor’s robust industries. He believes the citizens should vote the issue.
The proposition would be a simple exercise that could be incorporated in any state wide referendum. The opponents continue the road blocks by citing the risks of gambling addiction and other untoward behaviors that comes from this activity. McCrary refuted this concern out of hand as he highlights that Alabama citizens participate in gambling in neighboring states and online. He goes further with no issues have been documented that would preclude a move towards legalization. The biggest factors in his argument that keeps bubbling up are the benefits of jobs and revenue.
Benefits to the State
Staggering economic impact are the words used by Mr. McCrary to describe the effect legal gambling would have on the state. He continues by listing education revenue for scholarships, infrastructure funding, and jobs as the specific areas benefited. The current fiscal crisis would receive an infusion of $400 million each year. In addition, a plan was laid out by the President Pro Tem in the senate Del Marsh. The initiative is dubbed The Marsh Plan and would create an Alabama Gaming Commission to regulate casinos and lottery activity. The idea has the addition of several casinos using the model in the cities of Birmingham and Mobile. This would include more Indian Tribal venues and new business developers.
To further his position, McCrary shares the results of the Auburn University of Montgomery study completed by the Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency. The report states that 11,000 jobs would be created and state coffers would earn $1.2 billion in revenue annually. These benefits would be achieved without raising taxes or using existing funds as start-up capital. He also states that other industries including hotels and resorts would see increases in job creation and revenue that would continue to decrease the current financial crisis. Finally, a challenge was made to the Alabama legislature to trust the citizens with this decision as responsible stewards.
Whatever the results of this current push for legal gambling in the state of Alabama ends up being, proponents are staging a fact based campaign. Now it is up to the legislature to decide if the argument will move the needle in their desired direction. Only time will tell.