Former Gov. Robert Bentley acknowledges a harsh reality about the future of gambling in Alabama, which he says, "boils down to money."
During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show" on Friday, the former governor speculated a lottery would win overwhelming support from the public.
However, he was skeptical of the public's support for casino gaming and cited past polling to bolster his claim.
"I think if you want the people to pass it, which they probably would -- if you want people to pass it, you would separate it because the polling that we did in 2016 when we called a special session for gaming, we were going to separate it," Bentley said. "We were talking about primarily a lottery. And at that time, the polling we showed -- even Republicans, hardcore Republicans -- 64% [of Republicans] were in favor of a lottery, and 75% of the people [of Alabama]."
He said the lottery by itself would pass if it's put before the people, but he claimed gambling interests aren't content with only a lottery bill; they want all the casinos too. He said it all boils down to money and whether the casinos and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians get their part of it. If only one piece is part of the legislation, Bentley stated, someone else will be against it.
"The way it looks right now -- do I think one is going to pass?" Bentley added. "I really don't. And that may boil down to more pressure from the Poarch Creek Indians because they probably don't want one passed."
Bentley mentioned past so-called study committees that have given policy recommendations but insisted money will be the determining factor.
"We've had two special committees that have thoroughly looked at this, and, you know, have presented policy-type programs to the administration," he said. "They did to me. I'm sure they have to Governor Ivey. But it still boils down to money and who is going to get their money. And I think we could use it in the state if we put it in the right place. I certainly think the lottery would pass. Now, the polling that we did showed casino gambling would not pass. That was in 2016.
"So, the casino people want it attached to a lottery because they have seen the same polling," Bentley continued. "They know that people are more in favor of a lottery than they are casino gambling around the state."
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