State Rep. Reed Ingram (R-Pike Road) recently doubled down on his opposition to the state's much-debated gambling legislation. However, he said he would vote in favor of the amendments offered by the Senate.

From early on in this legislative session, lawmakers have debated two bills offering comprehensive gaming bills in Alabama.  

House Bill 151 (HB151) would repeal all constitutional amendments allowing gambling in certain parts of the state and remove the state's constitutional gambling prohibition. The other, House Bill 152 (HB152), initially authorized a series of provisions legalizing casino gaming in specific locations, a statewide lottery, and online sports betting.

After receiving the bill, the Senate implemented significant changes to the legislation.

The substitute amendments under the Senate plan include a statewide lottery and a requirement that the governor negotiate a gambling compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI). Sports betting, online gambling or other non-PCI new casinos aren't included in the Senate's amendment like the House's version.

The House could concur and accept the Senate's changes, non-concur and head to a conference committee to try to iron out compromise legislation or let the amended legislation die without action.

Related: Gambling legislation stalls again after Senate changes

Ingram was one of 31 "no" votes when the bills cleared the House.

In a recent appearance on Montgomery radio NewsTalk 93.1's "News & Views," Ingram explained his initial vote against the legislation while detailing that he would vote to concur with the Senate version.

According to Ingram, the feedback from his constituents and the perceived moral implications of allowing casino gambling in Alabama motivated his vote.   

"I don't think we need casinos from one end of the state to the other, you know, up and down the interstate," Ingram said. "It just doesn't look good, and plus it's really bad on our state. To me, It's a tax on poor people. It's a tax on people that have addiction problems. It's a tax on people that really are just looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and you're never going to get it."

According to Ingram, he would favor allowing a vote on the lottery but not casino gaming.

"I'm not ever going to vote for anything but giving the people just to vote on a lottery."

Additionally, HB151 initially stated that the public vote on the gambling legislation would occur during the November general election, with a very tight race for the state's newly drawn second congressional district in the balance. For Ingram, the Senate version of the bill, which excludes casino gaming and places the constitutional amendment to the September 10 special election, is sufficient to secure his "yes" vote.

"We're in the bible belt," Ingram continued. "My district did not want it [and] I voted my district. I'm okay letting the people vote on a lottery, but not to vote on a lottery during our general election. I wanted it off of that tape because we're going to lose our congressional seat if we're not careful. And if we have something on there, a lot more Democrats turn out to vote for the gaming, then I think it's a given that we will lose the congressional seat."

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