Alabama is a state rooted in pride and resilience. This is a state that embodies the spirit of helping one another, and a place where we see communities coming together in the aftermath of disaster. This unity is not just a social phenomenon. It goes to the very core of national governance. Governor Kay Ivey and the Legislature have demonstrated a strong commitment to investing billions of dollars to foster Alabama's prosperity, provide jobs, infrastructure and, of course, maintain its status as the home of the nation's best football team. Ta. Our leaders recognize that investing in Alabama and its people is key to building a strong and prosperous state. This “Alabama First” spirit is our guiding principle.
However, the latest gaming laws raise questions that contradict this long-held national ideal. For decades, organizations such as the Porch Band of Creek Indians, Victoryland, Birmingham Racetrack, Mobile Racetrack, and Greentrack have diligently navigated the complexities of Alabama's complex gaming laws. . They have adapted and evolved, faced accusations and legal challenges head-on, and aligned themselves with state regulations. The state attorney general has acknowledged that these facilities are operating legally. So why does the new law ignore their longstanding contributions to the growth and prosperity of our communities?
The proposed bill would legalize 10 casinos across Alabama. This means that long-standing local businesses in Macon, Greene, Mobile and Birmingham counties that have been part of the gaming industry for decades have to fight with outside parties for licenses to continue operating. It means not to be. This approach not only ignores their heritage; There is a risk that it will be replaced by an out-of-state bidder.
Previous gaming bills clearly prioritized in-state operators. It stands to reason that these incumbent operators should at least be given the right to the best and final offer and the opportunity to match or exceed their bid after all offers have been considered. This ensures a level playing field and honors their longstanding contributions to our country.
We must ask ourselves, do we want organizations like Las Vegas casinos and foreign interests to determine the future of gaming in Alabama? This bill's current policy of prioritizing outsiders over our own is not only out of character for Alabama, but frankly alarming.
Governor Ivey and Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter's endorsement of the bill marks a significant change from previous legislative sessions. However, the core principle that Alabama must protect what is its own should remain the same. Local business owners have deep roots in our community. They reinvest profits locally, make decisions with a direct understanding of community impact, and create stable, community-focused jobs.
Alabama's gambling legislative history is full of challenges. Despite numerous attempts, comprehensive gambling legislation has repeatedly failed. These efforts typically stall, lacking the necessary leadership and support in the House. This time, as we approach the possibility of voting, let's not allow deviation from our core values of supporting Alabama businesses to become an obstacle.
The Gaming Bill is more than just a law. It reflects our values and our commitment to the people of Alabama. There should be a clear preference for Alabama businesses.
As Alabamians, we must defend gaming legislation that aligns with our state's values. When we vote, we need to make sure we're not just voting for the game, we're voting for the state of Alabama, our community, and the enduring spirit that makes us who we are. We are proud to call this state our home. As we stand on the cusp of this potentially historic change, let us remember the principles that have guided us through both prosperity and hardship: Alabama First.