Legislative News

2021 Alabama Legislative Session – Plan to Bring Gambling Bills Up for Debate in Senate on April 6, 2021

ALCAP has learned that the Alabama Senate plans to bring one or more lottery bills to the floor for debate tomorrow, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Please contact your Alabama State Senator TODAY and let him/her know of your opposition to any and all gambling bills. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

Along with this urgent request for action, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Glenn Murdock has updated his audio statement on the gambling issue. We included his original audio statement in our email last week, but I would encourage you to listen to this updated version and share it with others. Click here for a transcript of the audio statement that you can read and share with others.

I apologize for overloading you with emails, but the gambling situation is very fluid and changing quickly.

Again, PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THIS EMAIL AND SHARE IT WITH OTHERS IN YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND CONTACT YOUR ALABAMA STATE SENATOR TODAY (APRIL 6) OR TOMORROW MORNING (APRIL 7) BEFORE THE SENATE GOES INTO SESSION AT 2:30PM.

The bills that may be considered on the Senate floor include the following:

SB309SB310 and SB311 are the enabling bills associated with Sen. Del Marsh’s original gambling bill (SB214) that was defeated before the Legislature went on Spring Break. These enabling bills were passed out of the Senate Tourism Committee AFTER SB214 failed, which indicates that the Sen. Marsh believes the casinos in his original bill may be included in amendments to the “lottery only” bills.

SB319 and SB320 are the “lottery only” bills introduced by Sen. Jim McClendon. These bills, as stated earlier, may be amended to include casinos before either bill is passed out of both legislative houses.

Even if a “lottery only” bill is ultimately passed without including casinos, the Poarch Creek Indians could use its passage to demand that a compact be signed allowing them to have full-fledged casinos at their current locations and add one or two new casinos in the state.

ACTION ALERT:

  1. I encourage you to listen to and share the updated audio statement by Glenn Murdock with everyone you know.

Contact your Alabama State Senator and strongly encourage him/her to oppose any and all pro-gambling bills. Be courteous, but be adamant that we do NOT want gambling expanded in Alabama! Polling, which legislators keep using to argue for passage of some form of gambling expansion, is skewed. I have talked with individuals who have been polled and the way the questions are worded can result in an interpretation that favors gambling even if the person being polled is not in favor of gambling expansion. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

Legislative Update 3/19/2021 Week 6

Gambling

Sen. Garlan Gudger’s lottery bill (SB318) was withdrawn from the Senate Tourism Committee on Wednesday of this week, but the sponsor and committee chairman (Sen. Del Marsh) acknowledged that it could be brought back at any point “if needed” (their words).

Sen. Jim McClendon’s lottery bills (SB319 and SB320) were passed out of committee on Wednesday and had their second reading on the Senate floor Thursday morning. He did amend his bills to take out the video lottery terminals (VLTs, which are slot machines that supposedly play the lottery), but his bills still call for a vote of the people to legalize a state-sponsored lottery.

Sen. Marsh’s “enabling legislation” bills (SB309, SB310 and SB311) that are written to detail how his original bill (SB214) that calls for a state-sponsored lottery and several state-sanctioned casinos, as well as requiring a compact be signed with the Poarch Creek Indians, allowing them to have full-fledged casinos and build at least one additional casino, were passed out of the Senate Tourism Committee and had their second reading on Thursday on the Senate Floor. Sen. Marsh said he wanted to pass these bills “in case” they were needed later. This leads many of us to believe that he fully intends for the original legislation that was contained in SB214 to come back in some form. Otherwise, there was no need to pass enabling legislation.

The battle over gambling has NOT ended. Everyone must stay vigilant. In press reports following the defeat of Sen. Marsh’s SB214 week before last, Marsh admitted that pastors calling the offices of their senators DID have an impact on his gambling bill being defeated. This shows how important it is for pastors and church members to flood the email boxes and phone lines of their state senators, encouraging them to vote NO on ANY and ALL gambling bills.

As stated above, we believe that even the so-called “lottery only” bills will be used to reinsert full-fledged casino gambling into the legislation, so we must not become complacent. There are plenty of reasons to oppose a “simple lottery only” bill, but ALCAP continues to maintain that any lottery bill will eventually result in casinos, sports betting and online gambling.

ACTION ALERT: Please contact your Alabama State Senator and encourage him/her to vote NO on ANY and ALL pro-gambling bills, including SB309, SB310, SB311, SB318, SB319 and SB320. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

Pro-Life

ALCAP congratulates Rep. Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) on getting HB237 passed in the House. This bill is often referred to as the “Born Alive Bill.” The bill states that physicians have a duty to care for babies who are born alive after a failed abortion and establishes criminal penalties for not doing so. The bill now goes to the Senate and ALCAP urges a YES vote by the senators.

Vulnerable Child Accountability and Protection Act (VCAP)

SB10 has passed the Senate and we are still waiting for it to get to the floor of the House for a vote. Continue to pray that this bill will pass. It protects children from receiving hormone blockers or surgery specifically for the purpose of trying to change their sex.

Yoga

As we shared in last week’s update, HB246, the Yoga bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray, passed the full House. It has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and we expect it to be on the agenda for that committee on March 31, after the Legislature returns from spring break. ALCAP is urging a NO vote by the state senators on HB246.

“Medical” Marijuana

SB46, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, which already passed the Senate, is still waiting to be voted out of two House committees before going to the full House for debate. There is still time to contact your Alabama House Member and ask him/her to vote NO on SB46. Click here if you know your State House Member’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your House Member. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

Alcohol

Alcohol-related bills continue to make their way through both houses. We have voiced our concerns about expanding the availability of alcohol in the state, but most legislators don’t seem to care about making alcohol (a mind-altering and addictive drug) more and more available. No wonder our state is seeing more and more alcohol-related problems including under-age drinking, drunk driving, etc. The Alabama Legislature will be on spring break the week of March 22-26, so there will be no ALCAP Legislative Update next week.

Legislative Update 3/12/2021 Week 5

Gambling

Well, apparently, many Alabama Senators are obsessed with gambling. The lottery/casino bill failed to garner enough votes this week to pass out of the Alabama Senate, so immediately SIX new lottery bills were introduced. Senate Bill 309 (SB309), SB310 and SB311 were introduced by Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston); SB318 was introduced by Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman); and SB319 and SB320 were introduced by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville). Marsh’s bills were meant to be enabling legislation for SB214 had it passed and some believe the original bill could come back. Some of the lottery bills are for a lottery “only,” but involve Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) that are like slot machines and could be placed all over the state in restaurants and convenience stores. It is likely, too, that handheld devices could be used to “play the lottery.” All of this will make gambling pervasive in the state.

In addition, if a constitutional amendment is passed that legalizes a state-sponsored lottery, this could incentivize the Poarch Creek Indians to demand that a compact be signed allowing them to have full-fledged casinos and perhaps add one or two more casinos in the state that would be under their jurisdiction.

The gambling bosses are not giving up and going away quietly! We must continue to flood the phones and email boxes of Alabama senators asking them to oppose ALL gambling bills!

Sen. Del Marsh admitted to AL.com that pastors and church members calling their state senators made a difference in changing some of the votes on his expansive gambling bill.

We must not give up fighting for family values in our state! We must not allow the Alabama Legislature to add a new bureaucracy (“Gambling Commission”), target the poorest citizens of our state with fraudulent promises of “striking it rich,” while letting gambling bosses and lottery management companies run our state, and we must not allow the legislators to become dependent on gambling revenues to finance state government and then having to “prop up” the gambling enterprises later when the revenues begin to decline. (The state of New York is considering a bail out of the casinos in their state because they are not bringing in as much money as they promised and they are on the verge of bankruptcy. Click here to read the article about this.)

ACTION ALERT: Call your Alabama Senator TODAY and ask him/her to vote NO on ALL gambling bills! Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

“Medical’ Marijuana

SB46, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), which passed the Senate last week, was in the House Judiciary Committee this week. A public hearing was held, but a vote will not be taken until next week on whether or not to send the bill to the House floor for a vote. To their credit, the House is also requiring the bill be approved by the House Health Committee, which will deliberate on the bill once it clears the House Judiciary Committee.

ACTION ALERT: Please contact your Alabama House Representative and ask him/her to vote NO on SB46. Click here if you know your State House Member’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your House Member. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

Yoga

HB246, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika), passed the full House. It now goes to the Senate. We were unable to get an amendment on the bill requiring that parents sign a disclosure document that acknowledges that Yoga is intrinsically tied to the Hindu religion, but we hope to get that amendment added in the Senate. We would prefer that the Senate not pass the bill (amended or not).

ACTION ALERT: Please contact your Alabama Senator and ask him/her to vote NO on HB246. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

Alcohol

The bills legalizing direct delivery of alcoholic beverages to the homes of individuals (there are several) are still making their way through the Legislature. ALCAP opposes all of these bills.

SB287, which will result in the privatization of liquor stores in Alabama and will mean more stores, open longer hours and on more days, with more people drinking, continues to be of concern. We are watching this legislation very closely.

A new bill, SB334, sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), would legalize the purchase of alcoholic beverages at drive-thru windows. What could possibly go wrong with this?! (Note the sarcasm!) ALCAP obviously opposes this.

Vulnerable Child Accountability and Protection Act (VCAP) The senate version of this bill (SB10) passed the Senate last week and received a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee this week. The House version (HB1) already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with an amendment. We expect the Senate version to do the same when the committee votes on it next week. SB10 will then go to the full House for debate and a vote. Pray that this bill will pass. It protects children from receiving hormone blockers or surgery for the purpose of trying to change their sex.

Legislative Update 3/5/2021 Week 4

GAMBLING

Senate Bill 214 (SB214), sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh, is still waiting to be brought back to the floor of the Alabama Senate. Some have speculated that Marsh’s reason for not bringing it back for debate is because he doesn’t have the number of votes he needs in order to pass it (he needs 21 votes in the Senate). Others speculate that he is continuing to make changes to the bill in order to make it more acceptable to more senators (in other words, he’s “buying” their votes with promised benefits for the various districts represented by the different senators). Whatever the case, we anticipate the bill could come to the senate floor as early as next Tuesday, March 9, 2021. It is still important for everyone to call his/her state senator and ask them to vote NO on SB214. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

VULNERABLE CHILD COMPASSION & PROTECTION ACT (VCAP)

HB1 and SB10 are companion bills. Both bills prohibit gender change therapy for minors and prohibit the withholding of certain information from parents. HB1 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, but SB10 actually passed out of the full Senate and has now gone to the House where it will have to go through a committee before going to the floor of the House for a vote. ALCAP supports these bills and we will keep you posted as they progress through the House.

“MEDICAL” MARIJUANA

SB46, the “medical” marijuana bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, passed out of the full Senate with ten NO votes. If your state senator is listed here, please let him know how grateful you are for his opposition to SB46: Butler, Roberts, Scofield, Shelnutt, Allen, Givhan, Holley, Orr, Reed and Stutts. Click here then click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message.

SB46 now goes to the House and we hope to stop it there. Please contact your Alabama House Member and ask him/her to vote NO on SB46 (the “medical” marijuana bill). Click here if you know your State House Member’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your House Member. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator

ALCOHOL

We are monitoring several bills that will allow the delivery of alcoholic beverages directly to the homes of Alabama residents. If you have contact with your House Member or State Senator, please ask him or her to vote NO on all bills related to the direct delivery of alcoholic beverages.

This week, SB287 was introduced in the Senate. This bill calls for the privatization of liquor sales in Alabama. ALCAP has always opposed “privatization” because it will result in MANY more liquor store locations, operating longer hours and more days of the week. This will result in more people drinking and greater social costs to the state. If you don’t want to see your local Walmart, Walgreens and CVS stores becoming liquor stores, or you don’t want to see privately owned liquor stores opening on every corner in your community, you need to contact your legislators (especially, your state senator) and ask them to vote NO on SB287. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click here if you know your State House Member’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator or House Member. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator

YOGA

HB246 which will allow the Hindu religious practice of Yoga to be taught in public schools has passed out of committee and been placed on the House Special Order Calendar a couple of times already. However, the House has still not gotten to it and the bill is again scheduled for next Tuesday, March 9. It is far enough down on the calendar that they might not get to it on Tuesday either, but we will continue to monitor the bill. ALCAP is opposed to this bill and urges legislators to vote NO on HB246. For more information on why we oppose Yoga being taught in schools, watch the attached video interview with Clete Hux of the Apologetics Resource Center.

Legislative Update 2/26/2021

GAMBLING

As a reminder, on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, Sen. Del Marsh introduced Senate Bill 214 (SB214), calling for a constitutional amendment to be voted on by the citizens of Alabama that would legalize gambling in the state. The bill was voted out of the Senate Tourism Committee that Wednesday by a unanimous vote and Sen. Marsh indicated it would be on the floor of the Senate the next day (Thursday, February 11). He added that he would move that they “carry over” the final vote until after the Legislature’s scheduled 10-day break. This was to give the senators time to hear from their constituents. When they returned on February 23, Marsh indicated that he would not bring the bill to the floor for two weeks. This leads me to believe that he does not have the votes to pass it yet or he is trying to add even more gambling to the bill. Rumor has it that instead of 5-7 casinos, they are now talking about 8-10 casinos throughout the state. Hopefully, we can get constituents to pressure their senators to oppose this bill. We will keep everyone updated by way of our ALCAP Alerts. Everyone still has time to contact their State Senator and urge him/her to vote NO on SB214. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know your State Senator’s name. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

We are not talking about a simple “paper lottery,” but wide-spread gambling involving electronic gambling devices (slot machines and possibly online gambling “in the palm of your hand”); full-fledged casinos up and down the state; and a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians which would allow them to add a casino in Northeast Alabama near Huntsville and Chattanooga, TN, and now, possibly, a casino in every district of Alabama.

The argument from legislators who favor this bill is that they “just want to allow the people of Alabama to vote on gambling,” but what they really mean is they want to allow the big lottery management companies, the casino operators and the tribal gambling bosses to BUY the votes of the people. These gambling enterprises will combine their resources and grossly outspend gambling opponents.

Who will be the opponents? — Mostly the churches which will have to take the precious few ministry and missions dollars they have to fight this constitutional amendment. Gambling (whether you are talking about lottery games or casino gambling) will prey on the poorest people in our state and will lead to many more people losing everything they have on the false promise that they will “strike it rich!” In the end, churches will also lose as they are called upon to help families that will have lost everything they own (including their mortgages) through government-sanctioned and government-sponsored gambling.

For more information, click on the following links…

Document shared with the Governor’s Gambling Policy Study Committee last summer – Report to the Governor’s Gambling Policy Study Committee by Joseph C. Godfrey. Stop Predatory Gambling

SB46 – “MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Senate Bill 46 (SB46), the “Medical” marijuana bill, unfortunately, passed out of the Alabama Senate 21-8. The senators who voted NO included Senators Allen, Butler, Givhan, Holley, Orr, Reed, Roberts, Scofield, Shelnutt and Stutts. If you live in the district of any of these senators, please contact them and thank them for their NO vote. Click on their picture, fill out the form with your contact information, then “continue” to send your message. The bill now goes to the Alabama House of Representatives. Speaker Mac McCutcheon indicated that it will go through two House committees before it comes to the floor of the House for a vote: 1) The House Judiciary Committee; and 2) the House Health Committee. Please contact your Alabama House member and ask him/her to vote NO on SB46. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State House Member. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

VULNERABLE CHILD COMPASSION AND PROTECTION ACT (VCAP)

The two versions of this bill (one in the Senate and one in the House) were both in committee recently. House Bill 1 (HB1) had a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, was amended in committee, and then given a “favorable report,” meaning it now goes to the full House for debate and a vote. Senate Bill 10 (SB10), after a public hearing, was passed out of the Senate Health Committee. Both bills prohibit gender change therapy for minors and prohibit the withholding of certain related information from parents. ALCAP supports both of these bills and we encourage you to let your State Senator and State House Member know that you want them to vote YES on both bills. Click here if you know your State Senator’s name. Click here if you know your State House Member’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State Senator or House Member. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.

ALCOHOL

Several bills are making their way through the House and Senate that will allow for direct shipment of alcoholic beverages directly to the homes of Alabama citizens. Do not expect delivery service personnel to check IDs of those receiving the shipments! If any of these bills are passed by both houses and signed by the Governor, the result will be alcoholic beverages becoming available without any restrictions. Let me remind everyone that alcohol is a mind-altering and addictive drug and should be very restricted in its availability. It is not like buying regular grocery items online. Please see the instructions above to contact your Senator and House member and ask them to oppose all alcohol direct-delivery bills.

YOGA

HB246 has been introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives and was given a “favorable report” by the House Education Policy Committee, sending it to the full House for debate and a vote. This bill attempts to overturn existing law that bans the practice of yoga and meditation in public schools throughout the state. I interviewed Rev. Clete Hux, Executive Director of the Apologetics Resource Center in Birmingham, concerning why this bill is really a “Trojan Horse” that will establish the Hindu religion in public schools. ALCAP produced a 21-minute video of an interview with Clete Hux discussing this issue. You can view this interview here…

State of Alabama Opioid Action Plan

The Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council established by Executive Order of Governor Kay Ivey in August 2017 with a charge to develop a comprehensive coordinated strategy to combat Alabama’s opioid crisis and reduce the number of deaths and other adverse consequences in our state.

Click here for a copy of the State of Alabama Opioid Action Plan.  The Action Plan in this document was developed through the efforts of Council members and other subject matter experts who served on the Council’s seven subcommittees.

All current Legislative Updates are found on the “ALCAP Alerts” tab.

Gambling or skill? Alabama lawmakers ponder whether to turn fantasy sports into a reality

By John Sharp
www.al.com

Is fantasy sports gaming a battle of wits and smarts that’s worthy of free-market protection? Or is it just dolled-up digital gambling that deserves being outlawed? Josh Adams, following the debate in Montgomery from 50 miles away, can speak to the questions as well as anyone in the country.

Adams, 38, who lives in Auburn, is already nationally known for his views on the matter.

In the past two years, both the New York Times and the PBS show “Frontline” have come to talk to Adams, a recovering gambling addict, featuring him in deeply-reported stories about fantasy sports gaming and the risky obsessions associated with it.

“I want people in Alabama to be able to play daily fantasy sports,” Adams, who works for an entertainment production company in Opelika, said in an interview this week with AL.com. “Most people can play responsibly.”

And for people who can’t play responsibly, like himself, Adams insists that the industry owes them forthright warnings to stay away, and to tell them where to find help.

In the Legislature, three bills are in play to legalize daily fantasy sports gaming by Alabama players. And the brains-vs.-luck debate is well under way.

“To me, I don’t see it as the same type of gambling that I’ve been opposed to in the past such as the casino-type of gambling,” said Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, who is sponsoring one of the bills. “It’s about the skills of picking teams that are playing once a day or a couple times a week.”

Countered Joe Godfrey, executive director of Alabama Citizens Action Program – an organization funded by Alabama churches that opposes gaming of any kind: “It’s nothing more than online casinos. They say it’s all skill. It’s not.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

EDUCATIONAL UPDATE FROM THE SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™, INC.

To: SLI Supporters
Date: November 2016
From: A. Eric Johnston
Re: An Advisory Council on Gaming?

On October 3, 2016, Governor Robert Bentley announced he was appointing an Advisory Council on Gaming. Among the reasons reported is that it was necessary to resolve ongoing disagreements over electronic bingo, to resolve disputes and controversy that have existed for years on gambling, to avoid selective enforcement of gambling laws, to settle a lack of consensus among the judiciary and determine best practices from other states. In the Governor’s wisdom, all of this needs to be reviewed and then presented to the people for a vote. In other words, the Governor is now working for gambling interests in this state and he expects the Council to advise a repeal of that provision in the Alabama Constitution which prohibits games of chance. In the process, the Governor will discover a new source of income for the state – taxation of the poor.

For those of us who have been involved in the gambling issue, the Governor’s approach is completely transparent. Possibly, he has been duped by the gamblers, but more than likely, he has chosen to work with them to legalize gambling on the pretext of resolving conflict in the state and increasing revenue.

The apparent genesis of this was the case of State v. $223, 405.86, et al. The trial court found there was selective enforcement of gambling laws. The Governor said there is a “quilt work of local constitutional amendments around the state.” He suggests this is the basis for the dispute which needs to be resolved.

As a matter of fact and law, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court case. It has ruled consistently in a number of cases in recent years that it is only the gamblers who are attempting to perpetrate illegal slot machine gambling in the name of bingo who dispute our laws. The cases are not inconsistent and there is no dispute among the judiciary. The law is absolutely clear. The Supreme Court ordered on March 31, 2016, that once and for all law enforcement and gamblers should realize there is no question in the law and the law must be enforced. The Governor has ignored this finding.

The problem is, however, on September 5, 2015, Governor Bentley issued Executive Order 13 which told the Attorney General, who had been prosecuting cases statewide, to desist and allow local law enforcement to proceed. As a consequence of that action, Milton McGregor reopened VictoryLand on September 13, 2016. The local DA and sheriff refused to follow the Supreme Court’s instructions and have failed to investigate and prosecute clear criminal acts. It is a charade by the Governor to suggest that the operations in VictoryLand are questionable. In fact, he admitted they were illegal in a recent letter, joined in by the Attorney General, to VictoryLand.

The Supreme Court further ruled that Executive Order 13 has no effect on the Attorney General. It is his responsibility to enforce the laws. If local law enforcement refused to do so, it is incumbent on the Attorney General to do so. The only catch is that the Attorney General does not have the manpower, i.e., state troopers, to do the legwork necessary to enforce his investigation. The Governor has refused to provide that assistance to him.

So, you see, the Governor has found a way to thwart proper law enforcement of criminal activity in the state, while at the same time suggesting that a council is necessary to resolve these very difficult issues. It is complete fraud, deceit and subterfuge on behalf of the Governor. It works only to the benefit of the gamblers. We know from past legislative experience that the findings of this Council will result in the need to amend Alabama’s Constitution and to repeal its criminal gambling laws, while at the same time passing new laws to legalize gambling in the State of Alabama.

Perhaps, Governor Bentley does not believe the people in the state understand this. His very special “Council” will lead the way to broad, sunlit uplands of understanding. Such demagoguery by the morally failed leader of this state will lead only to a dark valley of deceit and crime which will injure not only individuals and families, but the moral fabric of the state.

Eunie Smith
Eagle Forum of Alabama

Joe Godfrey
ALCAP

A. Eric Johnston
Southeast Law Institute

An ‘advisory council’ on gaming?

Guest Voices, www.al.com
By Eunie Smith, Eagle Forum of Alabama; Joe Godfrey, ALCAP; and A. Eric Johnston, Southeast Law Institute

On October 3, 2016, Governor Robert Bentley announced he was appointing an advisory council on Gaming. Among the reasons reported is that it was necessary to resolve ongoing disagreements over electronic bingo, to resolve disputes and controversy that have existed for years on gambling, to avoid selective enforcement of gambling laws, to settle a lack of consensus among the judiciary and determine best practices from other states.

In the Governor’s wisdom, all of this needs to be reviewed and then presented to the people for a vote. In other words, the Governor is now working for gambling interests in this state and he expects the Council to advise a repeal of that provision in the Alabama Constitution which prohibits games of chance. In the process, the Governor will discover a new source of income for the state – taxation of the poor.

For those of us who have been involved in the gambling issue, the Governor’s approach is completely transparent. Possibly, he has been duped by the gamblers, but more than likely, he has chosen to work with them to legalize gambling on the pretext of resolving conflict in the state and increasing revenue.

The apparent genesis of this was the case of State v. $223, 405.86, et al. The trial court found there was selective enforcement of gambling laws. The Governor said there is a “quilt work of local constitutional amendments around the state.” He suggests this is the basis for the dispute which needs to be resolved.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Southern Baptist leader questions Gov. Bentley’s motives for lottery push

By Greg Garrison | ggarrison@al.com

The Rev. Joe Godfrey, executive director of ALCAP, will lead churches in the fight against a state lottery in Alabama.

Southern Baptists have been fighting gambling since the days of brush arbor revivals across the South.

They remain some of the staunchest opponents of gambling, believing it promotes immorality and hurts the poor.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who took office flouting his reputation as a staunch Southern Baptist upholder of morality, has now called for a special session to consider a state lottery.

The minister assigned to lead the Southern Baptist fight against gambling in Alabama questions Bentley’s motives.

“Either his morals are not as strong as he claims they are, which we’ve already seen, or this is a distraction from the scandal,” said the Rev. Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, an anti-gambling lobby supported by the Alabama Baptist Convention.

“I’ve talked to a lot a lot of pastors who are fed up with him,” said Godfrey, a former president of the state Baptist convention.
Regardless of Bentley’s motives, Godfrey is gearing up for yet another fight against lottery proposals.

“It’s a regressive tax on the poor,” Godfrey said. “It’s deceiving people into thinking it’s their ticket out of poverty. They’re going to advertise it and sell lottery tickets in poor neighborhoods, and people will spend their entire paychecks. Most of those tickets will end up in the trash.”

Then the state’s social services agencies will be beset by chronic gamblers and the social problems they cause, including increased Medicaid rolls, Godfrey said. Instead of fixing Medicaid funding, it will create a bigger drain on state services, he said.

“You’re not going to sell enough lottery tickets to sustain it,” he said. “It’s not producing wealth. It’s draining money out of the economy. When people buy lottery tickets, they’re not buying goods and services. They’re not paying sales taxes. The state will have to raise taxes.”

If the state votes to overturn its constitutional ban on lotteries, a push for casinos will be next, Godfrey believes.

“If people vote to allow a lottery, the legislature can come back and put in place casinos,” Godfrey said.

“I think it’s smoke and mirrors. I think the ultimate goal is to get casinos. They’ll come back and say the lottery revenue is not coming in like we thought it would; we need casinos, slots, keno, terminals. It’ll be a constant battle from now on.”

When he was pastor of First Baptist Church of Pleasant Grove, Godfrey had an older couple in the congregation who went to a Mississippi casino and gambled away everything they had, including the mortgage to their house. Gambling addicts then often turn to churches for assistance, he said.

“If we had casinos, they will go on a regular basis,” he said. “They will go every day and sit and gamble all day and lose everything they have.”

While many in Alabama travel to other states to gamble, it’s not as much a drain as if gambling were more available closer to home, Godfrey believes.

Gambling revenues mainly benefit casino owners, he said.

“The gambling bosses will own this state,” Godfrey said.

“A very small amount goes to state government,” he said. “When they opened Birmingham Race Course, we were told Birmingham City Schools would never have to worry about revenues again. You see how that turned out. If you look at schools in Mississippi, they are at the bottom of the pile. It doesn’t help their schools. Then people don’t have money to spend on goods and services when they lose all their money gambling. You’ll see more of that.”

Although churches staunchly opposed past efforts to create a state lottery, a major factor in keeping them out of Alabama, church opposition has faded as gambling becomes more acceptable, Godfrey admits.

Even Baptist and Methodist churches that once held the line on gambling now see prominent members going across state lines to buy lottery tickets and play at casinos and questioning the traditional moral stance against it.

So the front line of defense in the past now may be vulnerable.

“It’s going to be the churches that have to fight it,” Godfrey said. “Churches don’t have the money and reserves they did in the late 1990s. The recession has hit them hard.”

Churches will be hit again if a lottery passes, he believes. “When gambling addicts go broke, they’re going to come to the churches looking for help,” Godfrey said.

Now Republicans looking for alternatives to income, sales and property tax increases are more likely to resort to a lottery as an alternative, he said.

“This is not going to be good for the economy,” Godfrey said. “It sucks money out of the state. You have to raise taxes to sustain services. It’s the worst way to raise money. It’s still a tax. It’s a regressive tax on the poor.”

The real solution to state budget problems is courageous leadership, Godfrey said.

“We need to come up with a tax plan that’s fair and equitable and cut the budget,” Godfrey said. “If you’re depending on gambling, you’re in trouble. Gambling does not solve economic problems, it makes them worse. When the recession hit, Nevada had some of the highest unemployment rates, foreclosure rates, suicide rates. People stopped going out there to gamble when they didn’t have money. Our budget situation is bad, but It’d be worse if we had a lottery.”

States that use lottery money for college scholarships have had to raise academic standards for earning the scholarships, which means that children who attend poor schools with few resources often have a lesser chance of getting scholarships, he said.

“In Georgia, poor people are buying lottery tickets to pay for rich kids to go to college,” he said.

“It’s like Robin Hood in reverse. It’s robbing from the poor to give to the rich.”

Lottery income also pays for advertising that targets the poor, he said. “The government is asking citizens to invest in worthless lottery tickets,” Godfrey said. “It’s just sad.”

Click here for more information on our website.
Click here for information from Stop Predatory Gambling.  Dr. Joe Godfrey is on the Board of Directors of this national organization.