A majority of voters want the game and the lottery to be broadened. There is little opposition. Why can’t this be done?
On Wednesday, the owners of Alabama’s four dog tracks – VictoryLand, GreeneTrack, Mobile Greyhound Park and Birmingham Race Course – launched a new statewide advertising campaign to highlight the tax revenues the Alabama loses every year because its lawmakers simply refuse to pass full games. and lottery legislation.
Ads put the lost revenue at around $ 700 million – the estimated amount that a 2021 gaming and lottery bill would have generated, according to a number of studies. But the actual loss of revenue could be greater than that of the state, given that it will also miss the payroll taxes generated by the new casinos and the revenue from a deal that will be negotiated on the three Poarch Band of Creek Indians currently. in activity. casino.
We’re talking potentially about $ 1 billion a year to pay for college scholarships, the expansion of broadband Internet, the expansion of rural health care, and money for wards. kindergarten to grade 12 class.
The inability to do this is, quite frankly, mind-boggling.
Because what’s going on here is unlike anything that has happened in the past, when it comes to the long-standing struggles for the game in this state. I know a lot about these fights. I covered some of them. I looked for others. I have followed the history of these fights through three decades.
This fight is not like these fights.
It is different from these fights because there is an organization among the interested parties, very little organized opposition and a clear and obvious benefit to the public set out in the bill. In addition, he is extremely popular with voters, drawing tiny negative reactions from any group of voters.
And that’s what makes Governor Kay Ivey’s reluctance to include the game in a special session so confusing.
Because without the bickering between the track owners and the Poarch Creeks, and without a strong setback from the religious right, this is less of a gambling bill than an economic development bill.
You are no longer doing something controversial and daring. Hell, we have gambling all over this state and all around us. Nobody cares anymore.
Now all you do is create jobs and tax revenue. And you do it without pledging a dime of taxpayer money in incentives.
If I told you that a company relocated its production plants to Alabama and that it would bring in about a billion dollars in tax revenue per year, as well as 12,000 to 15,000 permanent jobs, and would create development poles, around which other businesses would set up shop – and that business would do these things in some of our most economically depressed areas, delivering unprecedented increases in revenue for cash-strapped school districts – our politicians would stumble upon them- same to offer incentive packages of up to tens of millions of dollars.
We would build the access roads for this company. We would train their employees. We would give them money. We would give them payroll tax relief.
We don’t have any of those things to do with this casino bill.
We’re going to get what is equivalent to three Toyota-Mazda factories, minus the $ 700 million in incentives we paid for one. And yet, for some reason, Ivey kept his promise to include games in a special session if the gambling bill has the votes.
According to the major players involved in the negotiations, the votes are there. Arguments surrounding a facility in County Lowndes – the only issue that kept the bill from passing at the end of the 2021 legislative session – have been resolved and the bill is ready to move forward .
And again, nothing from the governor’s office.
If only we could get Ivey to push as hard for a gambling bill that would generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue as she did for three prisons that nobody wants and a gas tax that’s about to go. cost the state’s working class thousands of dollars after this hurricane of the week.
Nonetheless, here we are, with a gambling bill that the majority of people are good with and with no real opposition to passing – and looking directly at an opportunity, thanks to the scholarship program and the expansion of healthcare, to fundamentally change that state for the better forever – and we can’t do that.
And the only reason I can understand why is that we’re just not used to doing great and good things here.