Legislative Update – Week 8

On Wednesday of this week (February 28, 2018) ALCAP was the only gambling opponent speaking in two separate public hearings in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee, chaired by Sen. Del Marsh. The first pro-gambling bill presented was SB325, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville. This bill would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) in Alabama, opening the door for Class III (full-fledged, casino-style) gambling in the state. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act states that if Class III gambling is ever legalized in a state (and DFS would likely be considered Class III gambling) then the state must “in good faith” sign a compact with the Indian Tribes within that state. So, if DFS is legalized in Alabama, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Commission (a federal agency) could require the state of Alabama to sign a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians giving them the ability to expand their locations and types of gambling. Also, others would likely demand equal treatment in non-tribal casinos and the state could see its anti-gambling laws “gutted.” Besides putting a virtual casino in the hands of anyone with a smart phone (including children and teens), the illegal “bingocinos” that keep trying to reopen could also install “Daily Fantasy Sports machines” (a.k.a. “slot machines”) and argue that they are simply playing daily fantasy sports, thus giving new life to these illegal gambling enterprises.

ALCAP argued in the public hearing on SB325 that, because DFS is Class III gambling, it should require a vote of the people as a constitutional amendment. If DFS is legalized by a simple statute, that in itself could be unconstitutional. Most of the states that have legalized DFS have placed the oversight under the authority of their state “gaming” (gambling) commissions and put the same restrictions on DFS that they put on all forms of gambling, thus supporting ALCAP’s argument that DFS is indeed Class III gambling. Since Alabama does not have a “gaming” commission, SB325 would place oversight of DFS under the authority of the Attorney General.

For more information on Daily Fantasy Sports and why we believe it is gambling, click here.

To see a short segment from a 2016 PBS Frontline interview on DFS, click here, or to see the entire Frontline program on the subject of Daily Fantasy Sports, click here.

In addition to SB325, there was a public hearing in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee on SB326, also sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford. This bill would call for a constitutional amendment that, if passed by the people of Alabama, would allow Alabama citizens to participate in the interstate, “mega” and “Powerball” lotteries now taking place in other states. This bill barely passed out of the committee by a 3-2 vote, and that only came after Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton, AL changed his vote from “no” to “yes.” ALCAP was, again, the only voice in opposition to the bill during the public hearing. There were no proponents in the public hearing, but debate among the senators on the committee included comments that supported the bill.

For more information on state-sponsored lotteries and the negative impact of gambling in general, visit www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

Please contact your state senator TODAY and encourage him/her to oppose both SB325 and SB326 should either or both of these bills come to the floor of the Senate for a vote!!! Click on the links above in order to become knowledgeable about DFS and state-sponsored lotteries, be courteous, but be firm when you call. If you are able, a handwritten letter will be even more impactful than a phone call or email, but use whatever method you can to contact your state senator about both of these bills.

Also, when talking with candidates for local and state offices, always ask them to tell you their position on gambling. If they say, “I just want to let the people vote,” you answer, “That’s why we are electing you to represent us – so we don’t have to vote on everything! Take a stand and do what is best for the citizens of Alabama.”

Continue to keep ALCAP in your prayers and please consider putting ALCAP in your church budget. We need your support to continue this ministry.