The big news this week is that Sen. Greg Albritton finally introduced his gambling bills. SB293 calls for voters in Alabama to approve a Constitutional Amendment (CA) that will allow Class III* gambling in Alabama. SB294 is the “enabling legislation” (that details how gambling expansion will be implemented). Since SB294 will not apply if the CA does not pass, I will focus my comments on SB293.
SB293 calls for a state-sponsored “education lottery,” but some of the income from the lottery may be used for other purposes. (It is very vague and a little confusing.) The bill also calls for the following:
- The four existing illegal casinos currently operating in the state (Greene Track in Greene County; the Birmingham Race Track in Jefferson County; VictoryLand in Macon County; and the Mobile County Greyhound Racing facility in Mobile County) will be “rewarded” for their illegal activity with a monopoly if they are willing to sign a contract and pay millions of dollars in fees for the exclusive right to operate in the state as full-fledged casinos (with table games and slot machines, as well as sports betting and online sports betting).
- Two “satellite casinos” will also be allowed (one casino in each of the following counties: Houston and Lowndes). Illegal casinos are already operating in these two counties, so they will also be “rewarded” by the state for their years of illegal operations.
- The Poarch Band of Creek Indians will be allowed to sign a compact with the state. This compact, as stated in the bill, will allow the existing Indian facilities (one in Atmore, one in Montgomery and one in Wetumpka) to operate full-fledged casinos with table games, slot machines, sports betting and online sports betting, but the compact will also allow them to build a fourth casino in either DeKalb or Jackson County.
As stated above, sports betting at the casinos and online sports betting managed by the casinos, will be legalized. This means that there will be a total of 8 casinos and two satellite casinos (10 in all) operating throughout the entire state of Alabama, but worse than that, online sports betting will put gambling in the hands of everyone with a smart phone (including young people and children)!
If this bill passes and goes on the ballot for Alabama citizens to vote on in the November general election, the pro-gambling “bosses” and Poarch Creek Indians will spend tens of millions of dollars on advertising (TV, radio, direct mail, social media) to promote and sell the people of Alabama on “how great gambling will be for the state.” Many legislators argue that they are not necessarily in favor of gambling, but they want to “let the people vote.” However, it would be more accurate for them to say, “Let us BUY the people’s vote.” And, remember this: If the people of Alabama vote to legalize Class III gambling in the state, they will never be able to vote on the issue again because the gambling bosses will control the elections from now on. They will own the candidates and the media.
Once the state becomes dependent on gambling revenue, legislators will have to keep raising taxes on everyone (even those who do not gamble) in order to make up the lost revenue from lower sales tax income. If people are buying lottery tickets and gambling away their hard-earned income at casinos, they will not be buying goods and services. This will hurt small businesses, local municipalities and counties, as well as the Education Trust Fund, which gets $.04 of every sales tax dollar.
As people gamble less (which often happens when they realize they will not win), legislators will have to find ways to prop up the gambling establishments or increase the number of casinos and types of lottery games in order to keep people gambling. If you doubt this will happen, look at states that have all forms of gambling (lotteries and casinos) and see how they are struggling financially and how they have much higher taxes than Alabama — states such as New Jersey, Illinois and California. If gambling was so good for the economy, those states should be the richest in the nation, and yet, they are struggling financially and have some of the highest taxes in the nation.
There is so much more to say, but what we need right now is for everyone to contact your Alabama State Senator and House Member and ask him/her to oppose ALL pro-gambling bills, especially SB293. Also, contact others in your circle of influence who oppose gambling or who you can convince to oppose gambling, and ask them to contact their State Senator and House Member. For more information, visit www.ALCAP.com and www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
ACTION TO TAKE: Contact your Alabama State Senator and House Member and ask him/her to vote NO on SB293! In order to contact your legislators, click on the link to navigate to the ALCAP website. At the ALCAP website, click on the “find my legislator” button and enter your full street address. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find your Alabama State Legislator.
*Class I gambling is “social gambling” among friends. Class II gambling is charitable bingo. Class III gambling is predatory in nature. It is any gambling that involves table games, slot machines, etc.
VULNERABLE CHILD COMPASSION AND PROTECTION ACT (VCAP):
SB184, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt (and which passed out of the Senate last week), along with its companion bill, HB266, sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen, were both given a favorable report by the House Judiciary Committee this week. Since the Senate bill has already passed out of the full Senate, we expect Rep. Allen to focus on getting that bill passed by the House. We hope the bill will be added to the House Special Order Calendar soon, get passed, and be signed by the Governor. This bill protects children from abusive parents who might permanently alter their child’s sexual appearance through hormone blockers and surgical procedures until those children are 19 years of age and capable of making such a major decision on their own. There are exceptions for the use of hormone blockers, but they may not be used for the purpose of changing a child’s sexual appearance.
ACTION TO TAKE: Contact Speaker of the House, Rep. Mac McCutcheon and ask him to put SB184 (the VCAP bill) on the Special Order Calendar and get that bill passed as soon as possible.
Here’s a legislative update from our friends at Eagle Forum and the work they are doing on an education bill.
PRIORITY TALK RADIO PROGRAM
Callers to Greg Davis’s radio show, Priority Talk (a ministry of ALCAP) continue to tell how grateful they are for Greg and the way he is keeping them updated on the issues in our state. Several callers have indicated that they have looked for their legislators on the ALCAP website and called to tell their State Senator and/or House Member their opinions. These callers also commented how easy it was and how little time they had to take to make the calls or write the emails.
If you want to hear Greg’s program, it is on each weekday afternoon from 4:00pm-6:00pm on WXJC (101.1FM) all over north Alabama. You can also hear it online at https://prioritytalkradio.com.
PERSONAL WORD FROM JOE GODFREY
At the annual ALCAP Board Meeting this past Tuesday, the Board very graciously honored Cheryl Corley and me as we both plan to retire from ALCAP and American Character Builders at the end of April. (They, also, honored my wife, Joy.) We all want to thank the Board, the churches and all the individuals that have supported these ministries and prayed for us through these last 15 years. We love you and we will continue to do whatever we can to support the work of ALCAP and American Character Builders.