Oppose All Attempts to Expand Gambling or Establish a Lottery in Alabama

Much of the 2024 Regular Legislative Session was devoted towards efforts to expand casino style gambling and create a state sponsored lottery in Alabama. House bills by Rep. Chris Blackshear would have allowed Vegas-style gambling at 10 sites in Alabama, legalized sports betting, and established a state lottery. Both bills passed the House of Representatives; amended versions passed the Senate. A conference committee attempted a last minute expansion of dealer-less table games and the two chambers were unable to reach agreement on the the scope of the expansion. Pro-gambling forces will continue to push for expansion in future legislative sessions. API remains steadfast in its opposition to any effort to expand gambling and create a state lottery.

Legalizing casino-style gambling in the state and establishing a statewide lottery is bad public policy, both fiscally and socially, and it is the wrong solution to address the state’s unsustainable fiscal trajectory. Regardless of who plays the lottery or gambles (regardless of the outcome), the government receives a portion of every dollar spent on these activities. This creates a perverse incentive for the state, especially when conventional revenue streams are volatile. The state becomes addicted to these regressive funding streams, with politicians actually desiring for more and more individuals and families to recklessly spend their money gambling. If a lottery is instituted or gambling increased, calls to further increase gambling will become incessant and government expansion will likely follow in its wake. 

Advocates claim that current illegal gambling can be solved by changing the state constitution to make what is now illegal legal. Enforcement of current law and/or increased fines and penalties for illegal and unconstitutional betting is a better answer to the current levels of lawlessness in Alabama. Curtailing gambling is an honorable endeavor, the expansion of gambling isn’t. Online gambling—on sports or anything else—would turn every smartphone and device in the state into a portable casino. Where there are more opportunities to gamble, higher rates of addiction and negative societal impacts follow.  

States that have legalized gambling experience higher rates of gambling addiction, crime, corruption, addiction, and mental health disorders. With more opportunities to gamble, the negative impact of gambling increases. This is especially true as gambling is normalized for children; early and increased exposure to gambling leads to increases in addiction that can cause emotional damage, strained relationships, and ruined lives.

Gambling is a bad bet for Alabama families. Suggesting that it is an issue to be “left up to the voters” is not an appropriate response for a conservative legislator. Any attempts to expand gambling or establish a state-run lottery should be rebuffed.