BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – On Wednesday, the newly introduced state gambling law was presented to the Senate’s tourism committee.
Senate Bill 214 would allow 5 locations across the state to play casino style games.
In Jefferson County, Birmingham Racetrack is one of those five locations. If the bill passes the legislature, it goes to a referendum. For those visiting the racetrack, it’s no surprise that many were on the bill.
“I think it would be great for everyone,” said Maurice Solley, a regular on the circuit.
Others, playing their luck, said the state should have made this change a long time ago.
“The state is stupid not to require them to have table games because that brings people to work,” said Eilieen Kacmarynski.
The bill would allow slot machines, video lottery, poker, blackjack, and more.
The Gambling Act is passed by the Alabama Senate Committee
Less than 2 miles down the road is the Guiding Light Church. Bishop Jim Lowe said legislation should be written with the consequences in mind.
“Money should be set aside for the unintended social and economic consequences resulting from the players,” Lowe said.
Studies show that around 1% of adults have a serious gambling problem. Lowe wants some of the income to be used for people with gambling addiction and the state food tax to be abolished.
Others argue that gambling is everywhere and it is time for Alabama to make money.
“I mean this is everywhere, people can go somewhere else and do it,” said Desmond Baity. “So it doesn’t matter if it’s at home or elsewhere, if someone wants to do it, they’ll do it.”
After the bill was announced, the circuit released the following statement:
We appreciate the hard work of Sen. Marsh and others in enabling Alabama voters to vote on and resolve this issue. There is significant gambling in every state around Alabama, and it is time our state captured that money and used it to support education, broadband, rural health care, and many other much-needed services. If passed, we expect this bill to create thousands of new jobs and add hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy – money currently going to other states in our region. We are reviewing the bill and will monitor the further process, but we want to make it clear that the people of Alabama should have the right to make the final decision on this important opportunity for our state.
Lewis Benefield, President of Birmingham Race Course and Victoryland
Alabamians have not voted on a lottery or advanced gambling since 1999. Senator Del Marsh said the bill would not go to Senate vote until later this month.
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