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June 16, 2021

Next opportunity is on May 17, the last of the 30-day session

Alabama's gambling expansion bill fails to be voted in the House

Alabama's gambling expansion bill fails to be voted in the House
Even if the House could pass a bill on May 17, it would have to go to a conference committee for an agreement with the Senate. 
United States | 05/07/2021

The House recessed for several hours for negotiations on the legislation on Thursday, but no agreement could be reached and it never came to the floor for consideration. The plan would bring a new lottery, six casinos and sports betting.

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labama's House of Representatives on Thursday failed to discuss legislation that would create a lottery, bring six new casinos and sports betting in the state.

The House was expected to consider the plan that carried the endorsement of Gov. Kay Ivey and was in the works for months, but it never came to the floor for consideration. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said the plan did not have enough votes, AL.com reports. It needed support from members from both parties to get the three-fifths majority required for a constitutional amendment, McCutcheon said.

The House recessed for several hours for negotiations on the legislation but no agreement could be reached. Republican leaders in the House sought to introduce a lottery-only proposal after the more comprehensive bill stalled. But that plan was withdrawn after complaints that lawmakers did not have time to even read the bill.

It was the 29th day of the 30-day session, and the House adjourned just before midnight and will return at 10 a.m. on May 17. McCutcheon said passing the gambling bill on the last day was unlikely. “I can’t say that we will not try to address it. But I can say that because of the bill and the way it is, it’s going to be doubtful,” he said.

Even if the House could pass a bill on May 17, it would have to go to a conference committee for an agreement with the Senate. 

The Senate passed the three-bill package for the lottery and casinos on April 13. One bill is a constitutional amendment that would have gone on the ballot for voters to have the final say on the gambling expansion and regulation. That would be in November 2022.

The Legislative Services Agency has estimated that the lottery would raise $200 to $300 million a year and the casinos would raise $300 to $400 million. The plan called for 40% or the revenue from the casinos and sports betting to support enhanced health care services.

Donald Trump Jr., the oldest son of the former US president, called Alabama’s latest attempt at legalizing gambling and the lottery a “bad bill” that would prevent world-class resorts and casinos from entering into Alabama. “If you’re gonna legalize gambling, actually legalize it, but giving a monopoly to a small group of casino bosses is just a special interest giveaway,” Trump Jr. said in his Twitter account on Wednesday.

Trump’s tweet was in response to a tweet from national Republican strategist Andrew Surabian, who called the Alabama’s gambling plan as “anti-competitive, crony-capitalism.”

Democrats wanted more specific language in the bill that the money would be used to expand Medicaid. Republicans have opposed Medicaid expansion. McCutcheon said that was one of the sticking points in the negotiations.

Democrats were also concerned that the plan would have shut down existing electronic bingo operations in Lowndes and Greene counties. And they wanted stronger language on the inclusion of Blacks in the businesses that would arise from the gambling expansion.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, said the late-night, lottery-only bill came as a surprise to the Democratic caucus after a day of negotiations. But he said he wanted to keep the door open for more talks with Republicans because of the importance of Medicaid expansion to fill the gap in health care coverage for low-income working people.

McCutcheon said there was limited time to negotiate the Democrats’ demands for the legislation. He said there was limited time overall to get the gambling package ready for a vote because it only passed the Senate on April 13.

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