What would the bill do?
SB293 is a proposal to amend the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the new Alabama Education Lottery and Gambling Commission. Proceeds of the Alabama Education Lottery would go to scholarships and education or workforce needs. Gambling revenues would go to counties and municipalities. Up to half of 1% of proceeds from the lottery and gambling revenues could go to programs “to address problem gambling.”
SB294 would “implement the constitutional amendment” (SB293) that established the Alabama Education Lottery and Gambling Commission and would allow “certain gaming activities” which would be regulated by the commission. The Alabama Gambling Trust Fund would be created to provide for the administration and distribution of funds made off gaming.
What type of “gaming activities” would be allowed?
Slot machines, video lottery terminals, pari-mutuel wagering games on live or simulcast races, card games (poker, baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack), dice games, roulette, bingo, electronic bingo, table games, electronic games, and electronic sweepstakes, and internet sports betting.
What type of lotteries would be allowed?
State lottery, multi-state lottery, instant tickets, scratch-off tickets, or any other draw-based lottery.
Are there age restrictions on participation in gaming activity or sports betting?
Yes. Participants must be 21 years of age or older. Businesses will be allowed to employ people ages 18 and up.
Who will get to operate facilities and lotteries in the state?
Businesses would have to apply to the commission for a license. The commission would consider the operator's “moral character, reputation, financial ability and history, including tax debt, past compliance, past legal matters and activities, including personal history." SB293 specifies that five locations would be licensed: Greenetrack in Greene County, the Birmingham Race Course in Jefferson County, Victoryland in Macon County, the Mobile County Greyhound Racing Facility in Mobile County and a fifth casino, in either Dekalb County or Jackson County, would be allowed as part of a compact to be negotiated between the governor and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The amendment also allows for a single satellite casino license to be issued in Houston and Lowndes County. The amendment further states, “The owners of the locations in Greene County, commonly known as Greentrack; Jefferson County, commonly known as the Birmingham Race Course; Macon County, commonly known as Victoryland; and Mobile County, commonly known as the Mobile Greyhound Racing Facility, shall have the right to make a final bid exceeding the highest bidder in the competitive bidding process for the casino license in their respective locations.” The amendment further states that, “the commission shall issue a casino license to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to conduct and operate casino-style games, subject to the rules of the commission, at a single site in either Dekalb County or Jackson County to be determined in the compact, and on terms to be determined in the compact.” View the full amendment by clicking here.
Where will the money go?
According to the bill, operators will pay the commission 20% of net gaming revenues within 20 days after the end of each calendar month. Here is the breakdown of where that money will go:
95% to Alabama Gambling Trust Fund
3% to county commission
2% to municipality (or county if not located in city or town limits)
For sports betting, 20% of net revenue must also be paid within 20 days after the end of each calendar month. The commission makes repayment of the Alabama Trust Fund under the People’s Trust Act. Upon completion of repayment of the trust fund, to be deposited into the General Fund Budget Reserve Fund until the total balance in the fund is at least $100 million:
80% goes to State General Fund
20% goes to Alabama Trust Fund
The remaining proceeds will go to the Department of Mental Health, expansion of broadband services, rural health care, municipalities and counties that do not have gaming facilities, capital improvements, and state parks and historical sites.
What would the commission be responsible for?
The Alabama Education Lottery and Gambling Commission, which would be located in Montgomery, would oversee the issuance of casino gaming licenses, sports betting licenses, lottery retailer licenses, charitable fundraising licenses and management contract service provider licenses. The commission would also include the Gaming Enforcement Division (which would have a Director and Assistant Director), would assess civil and criminal penalties for violators and would create a process by which alleged violators could be heard and appeal their penalties.
Who will lead the commission?
There will be an executive director and a deputy director of the commission. The executive director will be appointed by the board of directors and will appoint his or her own deputy director. The executive director must be an attorney who is not a public official and who is not engaged in business with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians or have any dealings with gaming or gambling operations in any way. The commission will determine the salaries of the executive director and the deputy director.
What would commission members be paid?
Members would receive compensation equal to that of a member of the legislature and would be given travel expenses.
The Department of Examiners of Public Accounts will audit the commission. Employees of the commission may not have a financial interest in a licensed operator and may not be employed by or represent any vendor or operator for a period of two years after leaving the commission.
How would the Gaming Enforcement Division work?
The division would investigate incidents that were alleged to have occurred on the property of a gaming operation or in connection to a gaming operation. The director would be a law enforcement officer and would provide training plans for initial recruits and annual training for officers. Information on investigations would be kept confidential unless presented at a public hearing. The division could request assistance from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
What would happen with illegal gambling operations in the state?
The bill spells out that there are currently illegal gaming operations. The bill states, “It is necessary to initiate action to capture, control, limit, restrict, and govern all ongoing gaming activities, in every forum, by every media or means, and under any authority currently in existence.” The purpose of the bill would be to clarify state laws on gaming and tax gaming activities. Existing businesses would be required to submit business records from 2017 through 2021, including information on ownership and investors. The illegal businesses would then have to pay a fee for a license if they meet the requirements to operate in Alabama.