Known as a state that has strongly resisted the expansion of all forms of real money gambling, Alabama appears to be softening this stance with recent changes in the legislative climate. In a post by Alan Binder earlier this week on NTTimes.com, Alabama voters in both major parties nominated a candidate for governor that has gone on record as favoring a referendum on creating a state lottery.
Strong opposition to real money gambling in a Bible Belt state has been spearheaded by evangelical Christians and more specifically Joe Godfrey. He has established himself as the top state lobbyist for some of the most powerful and influential Alabama churches. The report cites that one highly influential politician once told Godfrey that no proposal for the expansion of real money gambling would ever make it through the State House as long as he was in office.
How Is Alabama’s Attitude Towards Gambling Slowly Turning More Favorable?
The reality of the current situation that the state is losing millions of dollars in revenue that being gambled elsewhere. Gambling revenue in real money casinos has become the Golden Goose for raising tax revenue across the entire country in recent years. In the past, many southern states have been reluctant to taking that route to bolster their own revenue shortfalls, but that was then and this is now. Mississippi is leading the charge for legalized sports betting in its real money casinos.
Expansion Of Alabama Casinos
There is still a level of resistance to the expansion of gambling through Alabama casinos as well as the establishment of a state lottery and legal sports betting. The New York Times report added a direct quote from Rich Wingo, a Republican state representative who has taken a hard line against gambling in the past. He stated, “I dread going back into session, if I’m re-elected, knowing that there’s probably going to be fantasy sports, there’s going to be a lottery, there’s going to be sports gambling, the Vegas-style gambling. I just feel like we’re going to be inundated with this gambling issue.”
The state currently offers real money gambling on bingo, horse and dog racing and a few select casinos run by Indian tribes that do not have table games. The prevailing attitude in Alabama is still against the expansion of the gambling. However, the past results in state elections for legislative seats along with the recent results in the primary for governor could signal some winds of change when it comes to addressing the issue of gambling expansion on the new legislative agenda. At the very least, the political clout that the evangelical Christians have demonstrated in the past will be put to the test.
When Don Siegelman was a Democratic governor of Alabama, he proposed a state lottery and it was soundly defeated by voters in 1999. He was quoted as saying, “I think there’s been a change in attitude, a slight change in attitude, maybe an unwitting change in attit