MONTGOMERY — A lottery and gambling constitutional amendment one vote away from passing the Senate will have “disastrous long-term impacts on Alabamians,” according to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI).

The Senate failed to pass the constitutional amendment on Tuesday by a single vote, but the proposal could come back up again in the last three days of the session for another vote. If passed, the amendment would establish a lottery, require the Governor to enter compact negotiations with PCI, and authorize seven electronic casino locations at racetracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon and Mobile Counties and bingo hall locations in Greene, Houston, and Lowndes Counties. PCI locations in Montgomery, Wetumpka, and Atmore would also be able to have the same offerings.

The constitutional amendment would have to be approved by a vote of the people on August 20. Compact negotiations with PCI are limited to in-person activities on lands held in trust before Feb. 6, 2024.

PCI said in a tribal statement on Thursday, “We, like so many others in our state, are deeply concerned that the bill currently being considered in the Senate will be passed and have disastrous long-term impacts on Alabamians.”

“Clearly, voters are anxious to have a chance to vote on a clear and complete plan for gaming. But a careful reading of this bill uncovers that the good intentions of legislators to craft a gaming plan that will limit and tax gaming in our state have not been realized,” the statement said. “Among our most serious concerns are provisions in the bill that would open the door to a mass expansion of "games" powered by artificial intelligence that mimic, with frightening accuracy, Las Vegas casino offerings including poker, roulette, and other Class III games. Additionally, the details of the bill allow for electronic gaming that mimics pinball, Skee-Ball, and pool – games that clearly target children with no built-in controls. We continue to support a lottery and are optimistic that our legislature will find a way to pass a clear and complete gaming bill that regulates, controls, and taxes gaming businesses and that also reflects the values of our State.”

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) told reporters on Thursday he hopes the Senate ultimately comes up with the votes to pass the proposal.

“I’m just hoping that they can come around and give the state of Alabama what we need. We need this new income. After 2026, we’re going to find all the federal money is gone. We’re going to need more income in the state of Alabama, and this is the closest that we have gotten in 20-plus years. I think that we can get over that hump. There’s still hope,” Singleton said. 

The Legislature could end the 2024 legislative session as early as next week and it’s unclear so far if there’s another Senator who voted ‘no’ on the constitutional amendment on Tuesday who is willing to flip in a future vote. 

“Based on where we are and looking at all the options, many times until you get right down to the last minute you don’t exactly know where you are and that’s part of the process. All I can say is we’re continuing to debate, continuing to work, and continuing to discuss it,” Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) told reporters on Thursday.

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