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Jerome García January 3, 2024 3 min read
Battle against Illegal Gambling in Alabama to Gain Momentum
Efforts of lawmakers against illegal gambling are likely to continue during the new regular session
Illegal gambling is once again in the sights of lawmakers in Alabama. With illegal gambling running rampant across the state, lawmakers identified the need for robust and effective legislation that would repeal illegal gambling. Such efforts are likely to resume during the new regular session of the legislators. Yet nothing is certain considering that successful efforts against illegal gambling would require tight collaboration between state and local authorities, as well as the effective implementation of the state’s anti-gambling laws.
Seeking to introduce an effective proposal against illegal gambling, Alabama created an ad hoc committee last summer. The committee consists of nine members of the House and was assembled in an effort to analyze the gambling sector in the state. Ultimately, the committee is expected to present a proposal with changes to the anti-gambling rules.
Rep. Andy Whitt, one of the members of the committee, who was interviewed by 1819 News, said that there are approximately 500 gaming facilities across the state’s 67 counties. Upon approaching the sheriffs of those counties with a question of whether or not there are gaming activities, he received only several responses. Whitt spoke about the importance of repealing illegal gambling. He explained: “My number one goal has been and always has been we’ve got to shut down these illegal gaming and out-of-state entities that are coming in.”
The State Needs Effective Enforcement of Its Anti-gambling Laws
The current laws in Alabama prohibit most forms of gambling. Yet, according to Whitt, there are nearly 20 constitutional amendments and some district attorneys and sheriffs read and enforce the laws differently. “It looks a lot like prohibition, it’s the Wild West in Alabama in gaming,” he explained.
Attorney General Steve Marshall shared the views of Whitt, explaining that not all officials across the state enforce the laws the same way. According to him, the effective repeal of illegal gambling and enforcement of the state’s anti-gambling laws demand a close collaboration between local and state authorities.
“Enforcement of Alabama’s anti-gambling laws requires a partnership between state and local officials.“Attorney General Steve Marshall
Marshall said that counties that have established such a bond between the authorities fight against gambling effectively. He also supported the idea of having strong leaders in different counties, an effort that is likely going to positively impact the enforcement of the anti-gaming laws.
Besides effective collaboration, according to Whitt, the creation of a state gaming commission is needed in order for the state to cope with its gambling problem. Such a commission would be able to enforce effectively the new laws that are potentially going to be introduced. At the same time, Whitt highlighted the importance of increasing penalties for illegal gambling, an effort that may serve as a deterrent.