According to State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollingers Island), there are currently 32 so-called gaming facilities operating within Alabama, either based on permission granted by local constitutional amendments or in jurisdictions where local law enforcement refuses to enforce existing state law.
That arrangement has created turmoil in the past, with officials in different agencies within the executive branch taking the lead. However, Brown said the legislature should play a role as well.
In an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Brown, who sponsored the so-called "simple" lottery bill briefly considered by the Alabama House of Representatives earlier this session, hinted that although his body has not addressed gambling head on, it could take on these smaller enterprises operating on dubious legal grounds.
[T]here's also a taste among the House and the Senate to do something with the 32 facilities that are operating now," he said. "We have 32 facilities across the state that are, you know, running video bingo parlors in different communities. And some of them were done by local constitutional amendments. And then some of them were just popping up, like in Jefferson County.... The sheriff there is saying he is just not going to enforce [state law]. They're getting local business licenses.
"And yet they're not really paying any state taxes. We've got to look at really how we're going to handle those, as well. That's a discussion we've got to bring to the table. We've got to be honest and deal with that situation. I mean, the governor, through an executive order, could close all those down tomorrow. But governors haven't done that in the past, and you know, Gov. Ivey is not doing that. So, I think the legislature -- we've got to look at doing that and try to bring those under control as part of the overall discussion."
The Mobile County Republican lawmaker said addressing this aspect of gaming in Alabama was essential to tackling the other elements.
"[I] think that's a big issue out there, and it does play into these discussions," Brown said. "It's one of those things that really needs to be dealt with. We have to be honest with what we're doing, and that's part of it -- to look at these facilities and how are we going to handle moving forward because if you look at the past gaming discussions, that [has] always been an issue in those discussions. You know -- which one of those facilities would be able to survive. If you just treated them across the board with the taxation issue, you will have a lot of them that won't make it. They won't be able to do that. So, I think that discussion has to be, in my mind, forefront and center of when we actually discuss any type of gaming in Alabama."
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