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March 11, 2024 Group Watch: Gambling Legislation Changed, but Passed

After the Senate Tourism Committee approved a scaled-back version of gambling legislation earlier in the week, the full Senate passed a two-bill proposal for a lottery and state-regulated gambling on Thursday, after about eight hours of debate. The vote was 22-11 on the first bill, a proposed constitutional amendment, which requires 21 votes. The Senate’s version dramatically changed the legislation approved by the Alabama House a couple of weeks ago, which would have included sports betting and up to seven new casinos, along with a lottery. The Senate-passed plan would allow pari-mutuel betting on horse racing and dog racing, simulcast races and computerized historical horse racing machines at seven locations. The pari-mutuel betting would be at the state’s four former greyhound tracks in Birmingham, Mobile, Greene County and Macon County, at what are now bingo halls in Houston and Lowndes Counties, and one additional site in Greene County. The facilities could not offer casino games or electronic bingo. The plan also calls for the Governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians that would allow the tribe to offer the full range of casino games at facilities in Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery, facilities that now offer electronic bingo. The new version changes when voters would decide on the constitutional amendment needed to approve the package, too, moving the vote to a special election on September 10 instead of the general election in November. The legislation now returns to the House, which can accept the changes, or, most likely, send it to conference committee to reach an agreement on a final version. 

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