A recent poll commissioned by the Alabama Policy Institute (API) shows that the planned expansion of statewide gambling is not a primary concern for Republican voters ahead of the 2024 legislative session.

Alabama lawmakers are currently working on legislation that will include Class III casino gaming, a state lottery, sportsbook gaming and the creation of an Alabama Gaming Commission.

SEE: Exclusive preview: House lawmakers to introduce gambling bill with lottery, sports betting, Class III casino gaming

According to API's poll, conducted by Montgomery Research, expanding gambling lies low on the list of top concerns for Republican voters in Alabama.

API Gambling 1 by Craig Monger on Scribd

For 977 statewide Republican primary voters, only 7% said expanding gambling was a top concern when asked to rate a series of legislative priorities. Jobs and the economy took the top spot, claiming 55% of the votes. Health care had 19% of the voters, protecting kids accounted for 12% and education tied with gambling expansion at 7%.

Likewise, 43% said they were "concerned with the rise in gambling addiction, particularly among young men," while 29% were not and 28% had no opinion.

API Gambling 2 by Craig Monger on Scribd

Those opposed to gambling often point to a perceived rise in crime, such as domestic violence and child trafficking, as well as increased rates of drug addiction and mental illness that accompany areas that have legalized gaming.

When asked if they would support gambling if it increased crime, 61% of respondents said no, 16% said yes, and 22% had no opinion.

When asked if they would support gambling if it increased child trafficking and domestic violence, 80% said no, 7% said yes, and 13% had no opinion. The poll showed nearly identical results when respondents were asked if they would support gambling if it increased drug addiction and mental illness.

Polled voters were also asked if they would personally support having a casino in their community; 64% said no, 23% said yes, and 13% had no opinion.

Lawmakers who spoke with 1819 News on the gambling legislation said the gaming commission would grant all sports gaming licenses. Online sports betting will be allowed. However, no other types of gaming will be allowed online.

The API poll asked if voters would support having digital gambling on every smartphone in Alabama; 80% said no, 8% said yes, and 12% had no opinion. Additionally, 68% said they would not want sports betting available on smartphones, while 12% expressed support and 20% had no opinion.  

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