Pro-gambling interests making noise as AL Legislature seeks solution to budget crisis

Legislators, local elected officials and business leaders met this morning at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the current legislative special session, which resumes Aug. 3. Legislators from Mobile and Baldwin counties are working to get more of the money from the BP oil spill settlement directed to the Gulf Coast.  (Photo by Martha Simmons)

Legislators, local elected officials and business leaders met this morning at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the current legislative special session, which resumes Aug. 3. Legislators from Mobile and Baldwin counties are working to get more of the money from the BP oil spill settlement directed to the Gulf Coast. (Photo by Martha Simmons)

BIRMINGHAM — Wrapping up the second of three weeks of study about how to solve the state’s predicted 2016 fiscal year General Fund budget shortfall, legislators are being courted by individuals, businesses and political leaders from various parts of the state and nation.

State senators and house members return to Montgomery on Aug. 3 to attempt to agree on a plan for the budget.

Out of all the voices chatting with legislators, those with pro-gambling interests in the state are the ones who have Alabama Citizens Action Program Executive Director Joe Godfrey concerned. And he’s afraid they may be the loudest of the voices at the moment, simply because they are making a lot of noise.

It has been reported in news outlets that pro-gambling people and businesses are possibly exaggerating the depth of the funding crisis in the state in order to gain support for expanding gambling, Godfrey said. There also will likely be a major campaign to fight new taxes, but that is hypocritical because gambling is a tax, he added.

“Gambling is a tax on the poor. The casinos and lottery proponents will actually target the low-income areas of our state promising that people can gamble their way out of poverty. That is a lie,” Godfrey said. “And if our state becomes dependent on gambling as a revenue stream, then it will start encouraging its own citizens to gamble instead of working hard, saving and investing in goods and services that will actually grow our state economy.”

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) want exclusive gambling rights in the state, and those running the four dog tracks in the state (one of which is run by PCI) want casino-style gambling legalized in their facilities. “Neither option works, and Alabama Baptists need to call their legislators next week and ask them to oppose all pro-gambling legislation and procedural votes,” Godfrey said.

Click here to find your House member and senator.

For more information on gambling issues in Alabama, visit www.thealabamabaptist.org and type “gambling” in the search bar.
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About thealabamabaptist

State Baptist newspaper serving Baptists in Alabama, providing information, inspiration and interpretation as well as challenging readers to serve and find opportunities for ministry that further the kingdom of God.
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