API Opposes SB 324 and any attempt to expand gambling in Alabama
Birmingham, Ala. – Today (May 31st, 2023), Alabama Policy Institute (API) vows to fight the newest attempt at expanding gambling in the State of Alabama.
Just after a series of articles were written about the lack of gambling push this legislative session, Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton filed a local bill with statewide implications, SB 324.
Filing a gambling as a “local” bill is a tactic to promote the expansion of gambling by taking advantage of the practice of local courtesy (an unspoken agreement that legislators vote affirmatively or abstain from voting on most local bills). If this bill becomes law, because it was filed as a local Constitutional Amendment, there will be no available recourse outside of the judicial system. Also, if the bill passes, we can expect legislators to use this same procedure to attempt to expand gambling throughout the state.
Attorney Eric Johnston, General Counsel of the Southeast Law Institute, asserted that the change in definition of peri-mutual betting embedded in the bill has the intention of making games of chance seem like skill-based games. Though the sponsor asserted otherwise, the bill changes the definition of pari-mutuel wagering. The legality of horse and dog racing is based upon historical races. However, this bill provides that computerized machines with any type of graphics can be used without whether the patron chooses an animal to wager upon. Additionally, the participant doesn’t have to watch all or part of the race or show any skill whatsoever. Changing the definition of peri-mutuel betting could have serious implications statewide.
The Senate committee, littered with Republicans, voted unanimously to move the bill forward. The following morning, after the bill was incorrectly being presented on the floor as a local bill that didn’t expand gambling, the bill passed 24-1.
SB 324 has been referred to the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee. Make no mistake. This legislation is an attempt to redefine peri-mutual betting in order to allow for the proliferation of slot machines. The Alabama Policy Institute will continue to fight every single attempted gambling expansion on every single front every single time.
The Alabama Policy Institute (API) has a thirty-year award-winning record of research and conservative advocacy on issues of public policy.
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