Legalizing gambling in Alabama could create about 19,000 jobs and pump roughly $700 million in new revenues into state government, a study group appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey reported Friday.
The committee, created earlier this year to examine a perennial topic at the Statehouse, also said social costs could result from expanding gambling and did not make specific policy suggestions, news outlets reported.
The almost 900-page report will become another piece of evidence as Alabama — one of only five states without a lottery — considers whether to allow additional gambling.
Former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, who chaired the panel, said the group found that about 60% of Alabama adults, or about 2.3 million people, would participate in expanded gambling. An estimated 66,000 of them, or 3%, would be problem gamblers, he said.
Speaking during a news conference outside the Capitol, Strange said the state could absorb the costs considering the potential revenues and new jobs.
“Gambling will work in the state of Alabama,” Strange said, adding that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Ivey said the research would be “pivotal” as leaders consider whether to expand gambling, which is currently dominated in the state by video-gaming casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
“The potential to act on gambling is an opportunity that cannot be accomplished solely by a governor or solely by the Legislature. It is incumbent on us to work together to provide the citizens of Alabama their opportunity to determine the future of gambling in Alabama,” she said in a statement.
Proposals to establish a state lottery and to allow the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to have full-fledged casinos failed to get floor votes this year before Ivey created the study group.
Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.