Ivey’s study group says gambling could mean $700M, 19K new jobs for state

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey looks over the Study Group on Gambling Policy’s report Friday in Montgomery. (Office of Gov. Kay Ivey)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Gov. Kay Ivey’s Study Group on Gambling Policy on Friday issued its report. In it, the group estimated the state could see as much as $700 million and create 19,000 new jobs if a constitutional amendment expanding legalized gambling in Alabama were to be approved by voters.

You can read the full report at https://governor.alabama.gov/assets/2020/12/FINAL-GSGGP-GAMBLING-REPORT.pdf.

“Earlier this year, I established the Study Group on Gambling Policy to thoroughly review and gather all the facts surrounding the seemingly endless debate on gambling in Alabama. They were tasked with providing detailed information to allow public officials and the people of our state to make the most informed decision possible, should we decide to pursue legislation to deal with this issue. I offer my sincerest thanks to (former Montgomery) Mayor Todd Strange and the members of the Study Group for their diligent work, especially for adapting when COVID-19 interrupted in-person meetings,” Ivey said in a statement.  

“After initial discussions with them regarding their report, I believe their research will be pivotal as gambling policies are being considered, debated and potentially voted on. As my team and I pour over the findings, I encourage the Legislature and the people of Alabama to do the same. The potential to act on gambling is an opportunity that cannot be accomplished solely by a governor or solely by the Legislature. It is incumbent on us to work together to provide the citizens of Alabama their opportunity to determine the future of gambling in Alabama,” she said. “I continue to maintain the final say on gambling belongs to the people of our great state, and if and when I have a recommendation regarding a specific course of action, I will do so in full transparency to the people of Alabama, working hand-in-hand with the Alabama Legislature.”

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper released responses to the report.

“I believe it is time to address this issue, and it appears the report from the Governor’s Gaming Commission supports that position. I have been working on a comprehensive piece of legislation that would create uniformity, establish a strong regulatory framework to govern gaming and begin collecting on hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue that is currently going to our neighboring states,” Marsh said. “I will continue to work with the Governor, House leadership and my Senate colleagues in an effort to let the people of Alabama vote on this topic.”

“This is an important issue to many Alabamians as well as to many of my colleagues in the Senate. Regardless of where one stands on the gaming issue, you have to recognize that Alabama has an inconsistent patchwork of laws and virtually no regulatory structure in place to deal with the gaming facilities operating here today,” Reed said. “I appreciate the Governor putting this group together to analyze this issue and will look forward to reviewing legislation that may come forward in the upcoming session.”

Members of the Study Group on Gambling are Todd Strange (Chair), R. “Rey” Almodóvar, Dr. Deborah Barnhart, Walter Bell, Dr. Regina Benjamin, Young Boozer, Sheriff Sam Cochran, Elizabeth “Liz” Huntley, Carl Jamison, Justice James “Jim” Main, Phillip “Phil” Rawls and Bishop B. Mike Watson.