Due to a very hectic schedule and the rapid pace of the 2019 Legislative Session, I have not been able to send an alert during the last two weeks. It seems the Alabama Legislature is determined to push gambling and alcohol on the people of Alabama.
But, let me begin with one positive bit of news. Senate Bill (SB) 77, which would privatize all the Alcohol Beverage Control retail stores in the state, failed to pass out of a Senate committee this past Wednesday. ALCAP’s position and focus, as stated during the public hearing before the vote was taken, is that when states privatize their liquor sales, the consumption rate rises by 48%. More consumption results in more social costs related to alcohol, and for that reason, ALCAP continues to support controlling alcohol sales through the Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC Board), both wholesale and retail. We have been told that a comprehensive alcohol privatization bill that will privatize both the wholesale and retail liquor sales will be introduced soon in the House. SB77 would have only privatized the retail stores, not the wholesale operations.
Two weeks ago, ALCAP’s opposition to SB116, SB130 and SB220 was presented during a public hearing. SB116 is a constitutional amendment that would legalize a state-sponsored lottery, along with Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) in existing dog tracks and certain bingo halls throughout the state. These VLTs are actually slot machines, so this bill would really legalize casino gambling, not just a lottery. It would also require a “gaming/gambling” commission to be established. (More “big government” coming out of Montgomery!) SB130 simply stated how the revenue from gambling would be divided within the state budgets.
SB220 was a “competing” lottery bill that, if voted on by the people, would allow Alabama to sell lottery tickets associated with the intra-state “mega” lotteries. This bill would not require a gambling commission, but it would result in the Poarch Creek Indians opening full-fledged casinos in their facilities. The Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, passed in 1985, states that the Indians can demand a compact be signed with the state, allowing them to have any kind of gambling that is legal within the state. Since a lottery is Class III gambling, which includes casino gambling, the Indians could demand that they be allowed to operate full-fledged casinos should the people vote for a lottery amendment. “Bottom line” – a vote for a lottery will actually be a vote for casino gambling in Alabama!
One local bill, House Bill (HB) 422, is a local constitutional amendment that would allow Macon County to have the same kind of electronic bingo machines used at the Poarch Creek Indian casinos. These are the same machines that were ruled as “illegal slot machines” by the Alabama Supreme Court in the past, but which the Federal Government continues to allow on the Indian Reservations. We are studying how to best stop this bill.
Several legislators have told me that they promised their constituents they would vote to allow their people to vote on a lottery. We need for everyone to contact your legislators and tell them you “release” them from such a foolish commitment and you want them to oppose all pro-gambling bills.
ALCAP is also watching a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) bill and a sports betting bill. HB361, legalizing DFS, will have a public hearing next Wednesday, April 17, at 3:00 PM in the House Government Committee. DFS is, in reality, online gambling. Pray that we will be able to stop this bill from advancing.
NOW, FOR THE BIGGEST NEWS! This coming Wednesday, April 17, at 10:30 AM, HB314 will have a public hearing followed by a vote by the House Health Committee. This bill will be historic! It is a pro-life bill that will outlaw abortions after implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine wall. This will be the most restrictive abortion bill in the nation if it passes. The hope is that bill could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court and reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision! We already have a list of individuals who will speak in the public hearing and what we need now is for God’s people to pray! We will keep you updated as this bill makes its way through the legislature.