No subject in the 2024 legislative session produced as much heat as a pair of proposed gambling bills designed to establish a comprehensive gambling system in Alabama. Disagreements over the legislation led to significant gamesmanship between the House and Senate up to the last day of the session. The political gridlock sometimes resulted in either chamber refusing to pass the other's bills.

After the Senate amended the bills, members from both bodies met in a conference committee and arrived at what was believed to be an acceptable comprise.

The gambling legislation ultimately died in the Senate, narrowly missing the needed support by one vote. The House advanced the legislation twice: the original and the conference committee version.  

In the aftermath, there has been no lack of finger-pointing at who is to blame for the bills’ failure, with members of both bodies blaming the other for the legislation’s failure to advance.  

SEE: State Rep. Blackshear puts failed gambling package on Senate – 'Ask one of the 15 senators that voted against this legislation'

SEE ALSO: State Sen. Elliott: Senate Republicans 'more conservative' than House Republicans on gambling

Friday, on the Capitol Journal, State Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest), a co-sponsor of the gambling package and member of the House Gaming Study Group, spoke on the legislation’s failure, placing the blame on the Senate.

“When it got to [the] Senate, some tweaks were made, and we went to conference committee, and it came out 6-0 on the conference committee report,” Whitt said. “We had the bill’s sponsor, Senator Albritton, on the conference committee to support that piece of legislation, and, surprising enough to us, he voted against the legislation on the floor. So, it caught us by surprise. Not only was it a disappointment to me, I had put in over 16 months of hard work into this bill. We felt that we had a good bill. The Senate obviously thought different: that it needed to be watered down. In the spirit of negotiations, the House went into it with good intentions and was faithful in our negotiations with the Senate. We had a lot of belief in the Senate that they would uphold their end of the bargain, and let’s get it out for a floor vote. We did that in the House. It got to the Senate and ultimately then failed by that one vote. I can’t tell you why. I have my suspicions. Obviously, there’s outside influences.”

Whitt further expressed disappointment in Senators who left the Senate floor on the final day of the session while House members desperately scrambled to push for the Senate to take the issue up again.

“The house was all for it; let’s vote on it, and I’m very proud of the House members for that,” Whitt continued. “When it gets up to the Senate, if you notice, some senators started taking an early vacation; they began leaving not to vote on that. You know, that is in the past. I’m not one to harbor hard feelings, but, as my grandmother always said, ‘the only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance,’ and that was on full display in the Senate, and that was very disappointing.”

Whitt echoed the sentiments of the legislation’s House sponsor, State Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City) and House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), who both expressed no desire to bring the legislation back up next session in the House.

RELATED: House Speaker Ledbetter not interested in pursuing gambling next year – 'We gave it every effort we can'

“I believe that it needs to be brought up in the Senate, and let us bring it back down to the House,” Whitt said. “The House has proven that we could pass it and that we’re willing to pass it. The voters want it. They deserve it, and they were quite disappointed and I think that some of the Senators are hearing that now from their constituents.”

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.