BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — For another year, the Alabama Legislature took up the issue of gambling, a political football that has been a point of friction for over 120 years in the state.
As in past years, the it failed again.
On Tuesday, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh brought a bill to the floor that would tackle the issues of gambling, lottery and gaming in Alabama. Ultimately, Alabama’s gambling bill failed by two votes in the Senate.
While the bill included new provisions, the issues at hand have been discussed and fought over for decades in Alabama.
Courtesy of gamblingsites.org, here is a short history of gambling in Alabama:
The 1901 Constitution of the State of Alabama made all gambling illegal.
The Alabama Supreme Court legalized wagering on dog and horse racing wagers. Soon after, four dog racing tracks opened in Mobile, Birmingham, Shorter, and Eutaw.
An amendment in the state constitution legalized charitable bingo in Jefferson County. Through this law, a charitable bingo operation could not distribute more than $7,500 dollars worth of prize money a week and the rest of the money had to go to the charity, with the exception of some expenses. The charitable bingos could be open only for two sessions a week, lasting no more than five hours each.
The Birmingham Race Course was approved for horse racing. In 2021, there are no betting horse tracks.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act permitted Native American tribes to run casinos on tribal-owned land.
The Jobs for Alabamians Coalition was established with the goal of amending the state constitution to allow a state-regulated lottery in Alabama’s dog tracks. There were four in operation at the time.
While running for re-election, Former Gov. Don Siegelman promised a state lottery. Ultimately, voters shot it down in a referendum.
Another amendment to the state constitution allowed VictoryLand, a casino in Macon County, to have electronic bingo.
Alabama filed tax liens (government property claims) against Greenetrack in Greene County for $72 million. According to the lawsuit, the hefty claims accounted for unpaid taxes connected to rigged bingo machines.
Federal agents raided and shut down VictoryLand.
VictoryLand reopened and closed again.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a lawsuit in an attempt to close the three casinos run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, citing the tribe’s obligation to comply with state laws prohibiting slot-machine gambling. It failed.
Former Gov. Robert Bentley announced he was forming an advisory council to examine the gambling issue. That same year, VictoryLand reopened.
Gov. Kay Ivey forms a task force to study the potential impacts of gambling and a lottery in Alabama.