MONTGOMERY — Members of the Senate voted Tuesday to join the House in a conference committee to devise a compromise between differing versions of gambling legislation passed by both chambers. 

The Senate appointed State Sens. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) and Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) to the conference committee. They'll join State Reps. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City), Andy Whitt (R-Madison) and Sam Jones (D-Mobile) on the committee.

"The Senate’s goal is simple: cap, control, collect. Alabamians have made it crystal clear that they want to vote on a statewide paper lottery, and the Senate bill gave the people of Alabama that right while cracking down on illegal gaming and limiting government. We look forward to Senator Albritton’s and Senator Gudger’s leadership in the conference committee as we stand firm in principle with our bill," Senate Majority Leader Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Any proposed legislation that passes the conference committee must still be approved by the full House and Senate before the session ends. A constitutional amendment requires a 60% vote threshold in both chambers.

The Senate voted by a 19-14 margin to send the constitutional amendment legislation to a conference committee. The enabling legislation passed by a 21-11 margin.

In its original form, House Bill 151 (HB151) would repeal all constitutional amendments allowing gambling in certain parts of the state and remove the state's constitutional gambling prohibition. The other, House Bill 152 (HB152), initially authorized a series of provisions legalizing casino gaming in specific locations, a statewide lottery, and online sports betting. Both bills are sponsored by Blackshear in the House.

The House passed both bills in February with a comfortable margin.

After weeks of deliberation, the Senate passed both bills on March 8, this time with amendments, significantly changing the original legislation.

The substitute amendments under the Senate plan include a statewide lottery and a requirement that the governor negotiate a gambling compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI). Sports betting, online gambling or other non-PCI new casinos aren't included in the Senate's amendment like the House's version. The constitutional amendment would be voted on in the Senate plan on September 10 in a special election.

The Senate's revised constitutional amendment also includes authorizing pari-mutuel wagering, including historical horse racing at the racetracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobile Counties and an additional location in Greene County, at the existing bingo halls in Houston County, and the town of White Hall in Lowndes County.

There are eight days left in the 2024 legislative session.

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