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Fiona Simmons February 3, 2021 3 min read
Alabama Seeks Constitutional Amendment on Gambling
With attempts to pass legal gambling in Alabama failing in legislature, Sen. Del Marsh wants to put it to voters to decide if the activity should be allowed in the state.
Sen Marsh to Seek Constitutional Amendment in 2022
Alabama is pushing steadfastly with sports betting legislation, and now Sen. Del Marsh is looking to pitch a constitutional amendment that would allow lottery and gambling operations, and the revenue generated thereof, to support college scholarships.
Marsh considers gambling and education to be high-priority issues and he sees a way that the pent-up demand for legal betting and gambling products in the state may actually help prop up the state budget allocated to education.
While the senator is not going to run for reelection in 2022, he wants to push forth with his proposal. He has decided to step down from his pro tem post, so that he can fully focus on passing what he sees as a key piece of legislation, among other legislative work left to do.
A New Gambling Betting Bill Coming
The senator has confirmed that he is going to introduce a gambling bill during the 15-week legislative session, or at some point by mid-May. However, the sooner Marsh acts the sooner lawmakers would have time to discuss his proposal.
Meanwhile, the state is already making attempts to see sports betting legalization through. Commenting further on gambling, Marsh argued that passing a law that legalizes it is a way for the state to offset at least some of the problems that the pandemic has brought on.
Scholarships for young people are one of those solutions, Marsh believes. While Marsh is still cryptic about the way he wants to approach regulated and licensed gambling in the state, he has previously argued that lottery games should certainly be included.
Previously, the senator sought a constitutional amendment back in 2015, potentially impacting both casinos and the lottery, but this never got the necessary support.
How Is Gambling to Be Expanded in Alabama?
To see Alabama legalize its gambling industry, Marsh will need the support of at least three-fifths of senators and representatives, and then put the proposal as a ballot measure to be voted during the 2022 elections.
An alternative road would be to try and pass a draft law through legislature, but he doesn’t think that this would succeed due to the many competing groups that disagree on what a gambling bill should include.
Instead, Marsh wants to leave the people to decide. Gambling was previously pitched successfully during the 1999 ballot when opponents nevertheless won with 54% of the votes. However, the incentive to allow gambling such as casino and lottery has increased.
Notwithstanding the pandemic, Gov. Kay Ivey commissioned a report from independent parties, assessing that Alabama could be generating between $500 million and $700 million in net revenue from the lottery alone, and another $10 million from sports betting.
Alabama, which doesn’t have a lottery, is missing out on significant tax dollar, it seems.