With only one day remaining, the 2023 legislative session has come and gone without a serious look at gambling.
According to House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), given the influx of new members in the legislature's lower chamber, that was by design.
However, the first-term speaker suggested gambling was inevitable for the legislature's consideration.
During an appearance on Friday's broadcast of Alabama Public Television's "Capitol Journal," Ledbetter told host Todd Stacy that gaming had to "be fixed."
"I think it's something we'll look at," he said. "My thing was this first session with 31 new members and trying to get everything put in place and trying organization done and trying to make sure that we took care of the people's business, something like gaming would have distracted us from that was my opinion. So, that's why I just told them upfront we weren't moving any legislation on gaming. I think everybody knew that. Outside of that, I formed a new committee, and they've met every week. They give me a report. The chairman of the committee gives me a report every other week, and they've made some progress. I will say that."
"I think the thing that Alabamians have got to know is that it is not that if we get gaming in Alabama," Ledbetter continued. "We've already got gaming in Alabama. The problem with it right now is because we don't have regulations, we don't have a gaming commission — you know, it's growing at a pace I didn't think it would. I think the last time we talked about this, there were 30-something operations. Now there is 50-something operations. So, we've got to get a grip on it. The people that are in the state now, whether it is the Poarch Creek Indians or whoever that is gaming, the state doesn't collect anything off that. We don't have any control over it. So, there has got to be a mechanism to try to do that."
"You know, I know people in the state want the lottery," he added. "That's pretty evident. But all of the other stuff has got to be cleaned up, too. If you look at the accomplishments for this session, we've fixed problems that have been going on for years. I think going into today, there has been a move to take off the grocery tax for 20 years or better. And we've finally started chipping away at that. Twenty-five percent will be removed as soon as it was signed into law. So, we've made accomplishments on long-term issues, and I think gaming is one of them. I think it has got to be fixed. It's broken. Just letting it fly in the wind and not have any regulations and nothing going on, I think the state has got to look at doing something to fix it. At the end of the day, it is the people of Alabama who have to vote to do something."
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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