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Gambling bill faces a roadblock in Senate

In a historic move that could forever change the landscape of Alabama's gaming laws, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill giving voters the opportunity to approve casino gambling, sports betting, and the creation of a state lottery. This comprehensive gaming package currently faces significant hurdles in the Alabama Senate, and its future remains uncertain. The Senate has passed similar bills in the past, but this one appears to be stalled, lacking the support it needs to move forward.

The bill currently has about 17 to 18 votes in favor, falling short of the 21 votes needed to pass. APR has received a list of senators who are considered likely to vote unopposed on Senate passage of the House bill. Among them are April Weaver, Sam Givan, Jack Williams, David Sessions, Garland Gudger, Will Barfoot, Chris Elliott, Josh Kahnley, Gerard Allen, Tom Butler, Lance Bell, and Wes Bell. Kitchens, Keith Kelly. These lawmakers remain divided, with some outrightly opposing the bill and others taking a wait-and-see approach without deciding on a final vote.

Alabama Political Reporter reached out to several of these senators for comment. Weaver expressed reservations, saying he would reserve his judgment until he sees the final version of the bill.

“I am not committed to either position,” Weaver said in a text message. “And we won't until we see the version we're voting on.”

Conversely, Elliott expressed a firm stance against the current bill passed by the House. In a post on his X account, Elliott revealed that a group of senators are working together to draft a replacement bill.

“A large group of senators is working hard to craft a bill that will pass the Senate and give voters the opportunity to vote on this issue. Changing the Constitution to allow gambling in Alabama is critical.” This is a serious issue and should be carried out carefully,” he said in a message posted to X.

In a letter to APR, he expressed his opposition to the House bill, saying, “I say no to what the House has passed.”

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Elliott's comments raise a major legislative conflict, with the House reluctant to make major changes to the bill, thus jeopardizing its passage and the chance of a referendum on gambling in Alabama. It's highlighted. The impasse is further complicated by dynamics within the Senate, where some members appear to be playing a strategic game of changing their opponents' positions based on specific amendments or concessions.

Passage of the bill is further hampered by outside pressure, including strong opposition from Alpha Insurance's political arm and the Alabama Policy Institute, both of which threaten political influence on Republican senators who support the bill. ing. These organizations, along with lobbyists representing out-of-state gaming interests and operators of illegal gaming facilities in the state, form a powerful coalition opposing the bill.

Interestingly, despite Gov. Kay Ivey's strong support for the gaming package, some senators remained steadfast. Some senators have reportedly denied the governor's influence, indicating clear defiance of his wishes. “They're basically dictating to Governor Ivey,” one senator said.

This legislative battle highlights the complexities and challenges of enacting significant policy changes in Alabama. Although the House made the landmark decision to advance the gaming bill, the Senate's reaction reflects the contradictory factors influencing the legislative outcome. With the fate of this bill hanging in the balance, Alabama is at a crossroads that could see a dramatic change in its stance on gambling laws.

Voters in the state have made it very clear that they want the opportunity to vote on gambling. All polls on the issue show very strong support for the opportunity to vote, exceeding 75 percent even among Republican voters. This mass endorsement is a calculated and complex attempt by senators to appease special interests that threaten their political futures, while hiding from voters the fact that they are denying their own clear aspirations. It is highly likely that he is explaining some kind of strategy.

While the Alabama House of Representatives has respected the voices of voters, at least a minority in the Senate is working hard to deny people the right to vote on gambling in November.

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