Alabama governor creates group to study gambling policy

It looks as if Alabama might be exploring the possibility of reforming its gambling laws.

On Friday Alabama’s Governor, Kay Ivey, signed Executive Order 719, creating the Study Group for Gambling Policy.

The group is made up of 12 individuals each representing Alabama’s various interests including legal scholars, public servants and law enforcement.

What will the study group do?

The newly formed study group will be tasked with gathering detailed information to help the governor, legislature and the state’s citizens make an informed decision on the expansion of gambling in Alabama.

The group will be required to submit a report by the end of the year which will look into the current state of Alabama’s gambling policy, the costs and benefits of gambling expansion and possible regulatory frameworks for expansion. The group may also make recommendations, but the executive order specifies that it doesn’t have to.

Governor Kay Ivey said: “I am committed to, once and for all, getting the facts so that the people of Alabama can make an informed decision on what has been a hotly debated topic for many years. Without a doubt, there will be ramifications if we eventually expand gaming options in our state just as there are costs associated with doing nothing.

“Every so often, this issue resurfaces through a new form of legislation. By my estimation, we’ve had more than 180 bills regarding a lottery or expanded gaming since the late 1990s.

“Ultimately, I believe the final say belongs to the people of Alabama. As their governor, I want them to be fully informed of all the facts so that, together, we can make the best decision possible.”

Gambling in Alabama

At this moment in time, Alabama’s gambling laws are quite restrictive as they only permit charitable raffles and pari-mutuel betting. Unlike many other states, Alabama does not offer a state lottery and does not participate in any national lottery schemes.

Tribal casinos are allowed to operate in the state; however, these venues are restricted to offering class 2 slots and bingo games.

As Alabama’s constitution bans lotteries and “gift enterprises” which includes several forms of casino gambling, an amendment would be required in order to introduce new gambling legislation. In the event that three-fifths of Alabama’s state legislators approved a proposed constitutional amendment, it would be put on a ballot where voters would have a say on the issue.

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