Del Marsh aims to patch budget deficit with gaming deal

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In an aggressive move to fill a projected deficit in the state General Fund, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh is reportedly circulating a package of gaming legislation that would create four casinos.

According to an AL.com report, the proposal reportedly includes a state gross receipts tax provision of 13 percent on gaming revenue at the tracks, located in in Birmingham, Mobile, Macon County and Greene County.

Marsh’s proposal also provides for a 1 percent local gross receipts tax that would be shared by the local jurisdictions where the tracks are.

The proposal would require an unusually high threshold of support for enactment, needing a three-fifths vote of confidence in both legislative chambers, plus approval from Alabama voters in a state constitutional amendment.

March asked fellow senators to study the bill this weekend. If he deems support for the deal sustains it, he told reporters Thursday, he will introduce similar language next week.

Marsh’s new gaming efforts are bolstered by a recent study conducted at the Auburn University at Montgomery Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency, which concluded that the state could garner some $323 million or in new tax receipts — $64 million a year during the first year — were it to allow casino gambling at the state’s four pari-mutuel facilities and adopt a state lottery.

Alabaster Sen. Cam Ward recently told AL.com, presciently, that he expected to see a new gaming bill come forward before the end of Session this year.

“I think your lottery has a pretty good chance of passing,” Ward said. “The dilemma there is who is going to get the money. If it all goes to education, it doesn’t solve our budget problem.”

AL.Com has posted a draft copy of the legislation here.

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