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Legalizing gambling in Alabama could create about 19,000 jobs and pump roughly $700 million in new revenues into state government, a study group appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey reported last week.
Ivey created the group by executive order back in February with the primary goal of looking at gambling’s impact on Alabama. She said her team is pouring over the findings, and she encouraged state legislators and all Alabamians to do the same.
The committee, created earlier this year to examine a perennial topic at the Statehouse, also said social costs could result from expanding gambling and did not make specific policy suggestions, as reported by several news agencies.
Ivey stated, “I believe their research will be pivotal as gambling policies are being considered, debated, and potentially voted on.”
The group’s report initially took information by examining other US states and five casinos running in Alabama. The almost 900-page report will become another piece of evidence as Alabama, one of only five states without a lottery considers whether to allow additional gambling.
Former Montgomery Alabama Mayor Todd Strange chaired the panel and said the group found that about 60% of Alabama adults, or approximately 2.3 million people, would participate in expanded gambling within the state. An estimated 66,000 of that group, or 3% of the total, would have the potential to become problem gamblers.
They confirmed and universally concluded that creating a state-run lottery would bring around $200 million in annual revenue at first with an opportunity to grow to $300 million. Sports betting would be expected to bring in around $10 million per year or possibly more.
Speaking during a news conference outside the Alabama Capitol, Strange was enthusiastic in saying the state could absorb the incremental costs considering the potential revenues and new jobs.
“Gambling will work in the state of Alabama. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”
Gov. Ivey said the research would be “pivotal” as leaders consider whether to expand gambling, which is currently dominated in the state by video-gaming casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
In a statement Ivey also said:
The potential to act on gambling is an opportunity that cannot be accomplished solely by a governor or solely by the Legislature. It is incumbent on us to work together to provide the citizens of Alabama their opportunity to determine the future of gambling in Alabama.
Strange and the study group laid out five next-step options studying the report toward proceeding while evaluating this important issue:
Ivey mentioned there has been “a seemingly endless debate on gambling in Alabama”. She created the group to “allow public officials and the people of Alabama to make the most informed decision possible. It is time to decide to pursue legislation or not to deal with this issue.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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