Gambling Legislation

Alabama lawmaker sees ‘urgent’ need for gambling legislation

Alabama lawmaker sees 'urgent' need for gambling legislation

Alabama needs to seriously consider gambling to compete with its neighbors

Alabama Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nathaniel Ledbetter, has been a supporter of legalized gambling in the state. However, illegal gambling has been the main focus of recent discussions in the state legislature.

Last Thursday, Ledbetter addressed the Mobile Chamber regarding the implications of illicit gambling in Alabama and that it had gone out of control, adding that the lack of regulation has resulted in a link between gambling and organized crime.

When he originally began investigating illegal gambling operations, Ledbetter assumed there would be around 60 businesses implicated in the activity. However, a special committee disclosed that this number was significantly higher than expected. The committee revealed approximately 70 unlawful bingo businesses in Jefferson County, with Ledbetter adding that the true number could be even greater.

Several bingo halls discontinued operations after the Alabama Attorney General’s Office investigation was completed this summer. Their licenses will not be renewed, and Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway declared that he would start shutting them down.

Ledbetter highlighted the significance of the shutdowns now that illegal gambling has been connected to more serious crimes occurring within these businesses.

Alabama legislators will address gambling regulations in the next session, which starts on the first Tuesday of February 2024, to examine forming a regulatory authority to monitor unlawful gambling in the state. Republican House member Michael Andrew Whitt also verified the urgent need for a state gambling commission.

Ledbetter and Whitt are both supporters of establishing a lottery in Alabama, one of the few remaining states without one. It’s one aspect of a broader strategy for gambling in the state, with sports betting and casinos also to be addressed.

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