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Lawmakers: Let voters decide on gaming

MONTGOMERY – Saying Alabamians are “tired of the Legislature’s lack of action,” members of the House Gaming Study Group presented details Wednesday on gaming legislation, which will be introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives today.

State Reps. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City), Andy Whitt (R-Harvest), Sam Jones (D-Mobile) and State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) discussed the legislation at the presentation.

“We like where we’re at to get this passed,” Whitt told 256 Today.

“Whether I’m at a public event or running errands back home, my constituents have consistently asked me why so many illegal facilities remain in operation and when they’ll have an opportunity to vote on gaming,” said Blackshear, who is sponsoring the legislation. “It’s clear that the people of Alabama are tired of the Legislature’s lack of action on this issue, and I feel we have a bill that positions Alabama to address this problem for the first time in 25 years.”

Whitt, who chaired the Gaming Study Group, shared some of his findings from traveling the state of Alabama to obtain a first-hand look at illegal gaming.

“For the last 14 months, I’ve traveled from county to county to pull back the curtain on illegal gaming operations in our state,” said Whitt. “My biggest takeaway was that there really is no curtain to pull back. These criminal enterprises are operating out in the open with complete disregard for state law.

“Despite what a few out-of-state funded groups will tell you, the only goal with this legislation is to offer Alabamians an opportunity to make an informed decision on the ballot and enable the state to put the bad actors out of business.”

The most substantial impact of this legislation is that it will result in the closure of hundreds of illegal facilities and provide a framework for the licensing, regulation and taxation of the seven facilities that could obtain a license through the state’s open bid process.

“The process taken in crafting this legislation should be a model for how the Legislature handles all its business,” said Jones. “We came together, negotiated in good faith, and created a product that will allow us to give the people of Alabama the chance to vote on this important issue.

“After all these years, it’s time we finally get this done.”

Information from Blackshear’s presentation can be found HERE.

“From revenue disbursement to regulation to licensing, I’m confident we’ve covered all the bases here,” Blackshear said. “I’m proud of our work, and I look forward to guiding this bill through the legislative process.”

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