Gambling debate goes on
Published 1:31 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004
The events of the past few months, starting with Attorney General Troy King's investigation into gambling makes one thing clear; Alabama is desperately trying to come to terms with gambling.
The movers and shakers behind what some call the new evangelical right have lobbied passionately to kill any proposed legislation legalizing casino-style gambling and lotteries in this state.
On the other side of the issue, a few interests have worked just as passionately to bring about things like lotteries for education. Or in other cases, expand the gaming and betting opportunities already available in the state by constantly nipping at the edges of the law.
Without getting into the debating points of both sides, your average Alabamian seems to have a "take-it or leave-it" attitude to gambling.
Some may take the short drive across the state line to Florida or Georgia on occasion to buy a few lottery tickets if they live close, or perhaps vacationing someplace like Orange Beach. If the jackpots grow large enough, thousands of Alabamians make the drive across state lines to "take a chance."
Thousands more head west to Mississippi and the casinos there. Some go for the shows offered there that would never come to Alabama. Primarily that's because the casinos are able to use their largess to help fund the shows in order to get a return on the money at the slot machines and card tables. Your average convention center or civic center auditorium could never do that.
But, by and large, your average Alabamian makes few of these kinds of trips.
Because Alabama is virtually surrounded by lotteries and casinos, the debate over gambling is not set to end soon. Gov. Bob Riley has been steadfast in his resistance to the expansion of gambling in this state, and there's no reason to think the current state of affairs will change anytime soon.
We will likely hear more rhetoric as time goes on, but as long as most Alabamians take a lessez-faire attitude towards gambling, the ebb and flow will be controlled by a few powerful interests.