Bill that would have updated gambling in Greene County did not pass this session

The sponsor said he will bring it again next regular session

By: - July 7, 2023 7:01 am

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, in the Alabama Senate chamber on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (Stew Milne/Alabama Reflector)

A bill that would have updated the laws for gambling in Greene County did not pass last session.

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said in a phone interview Wednesday that this bill would have updated laws around gambling in Greene County, where there is legal gambling.

“It was a payment statute, by allowing Greene County to be able to do historical horse races,” he said.

It also updated the payment distributions.

“Those are the kind of technical things that we did just to upgrade the statute,” he said.

Greene County is one of the few counties in Alabama that has gambling. Gambling is often controversial in the Alabama State House, and the state’s constitution bans lottery and gambling.

In the 2022 regular session, a bill that would have disrupted gambling in Greene County last year failed to cross the finish line.

It passed the Senate this year but failed to pass the House of Representatives. Singleton said that the House chose not to bring gambling bills to the floor this session. A message was left with House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, Thursday morning.

“You got to remember you got 32 brand new House members, no one knew where they stand on it,” Singleton said. 

According to the United States Census in 2021, around 39.8% of people living in Greene County live below the poverty line. About 61% of children and 42.7% of women are estimated to be living below the poverty line.

Singleton said that he plans to bring the bill back again during the next regular legislative session in 2024.

“If I thought I could get it through in this redistricting special session, I would, but I know that’s not going to be possible,” he said. “So, I’m not going to even attempt to do that.”

Singleton’s bill, a local bill, was one of the few times that gambling emerged in discussion this legislative session. Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, said last month in a phone interview that he thinks local bills will continue to be a method of taking up gambling until a more comprehensive bill is passed.

He also said that gambling might exist without local amendments first.

“It’s all over the state,” Albritton said. “We just got to find a way to regulate it and control it.”

He said that gambling has caused legal, credit and gambling problems in the past, and he wants the industry to be under state regulation.

Looking forward, Albritton wants to get another comprehensive bill on the floor. 

“I bring it up in every appropriate opportunity, because the state has got to take control of this industry,” he said.

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Jemma Stephenson
Jemma Stephenson

Jemma Stephenson covers education as a reporter for the Alabama Reflector. She previously worked at the Montgomery Advertiser and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.