A group of Alabama lawmakers unveiled a sweeping gambling bill last week that could authorize a state lottery and 10 casinos across the conservative Deep South state as some Republicans look to get the question before voters in November.
Alabama is one of few states without a state lottery, after lawmakers in 1999 rejected a proposal to allow one. And unlike neighboring Mississippi, the state has been resistant to full-fledged casinos with table games and slot machines. Lawmakers estimate the proposal could provide more than $800 million in annual revenue to the state.
If approved by three-fifths of lawmakers, the proposal would be put on the ballot for voters to decide.
“We believe that people deserve the right to vote on this issue,” said Republican Rep. Andy Whitt, who led a group of legislators who worked on the bill.
The gambling bill, now backed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, was among several controversial measures put forward by lawmakers to kick off the legislative session. A committee advanced legislation that would make it a crime to return another person’s absentee ballot, a restriction Republican supporters said they want to enact before the November presidential election.
A draft of the gambling legislation was distributed to lawmakers last week and supporters said the bill could be up for a vote in committee and on the House floor as soon as this week, depending upon support. Republican backers of the bill will need to whip votes from within their ranks and also win the votes of a substantial number of Democratic lawmakers.
“We’re trending in the right direction,” Republican Rep. Chris Blackshear, who will sponsor the bill, said of efforts to get the needed 63 votes to pass the bill in the Republican-dominated House.
Several lawmakers from both sides on the aisle said they needed more time to review the bill before determining how they will vote.
Supporters pitched the bill as a means to crack down on small electronic gambling machines that have cropped up in convenience stores and small gambling halls. The state has been in a long-running legal battle to shut down electronic bingo machines, which have whirling displays that make them resemble slot machines. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who are not under state jurisdiction, have three sites with the slot machine lookalikes.
The proposed constitutional amendment would allow a state lottery, seven new casino sites, sports betting and also authorize the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians that would enable the tribe to offer casino games at their three existing locations. The tribe would also be able to offer such games at a new casino site in north Alabama that could attract customers from Tennessee and Georgia.
Lottery proceeds would go to education programs such as scholarships for two-year community and technical colleges and dual enrollment. Casino and sports betting revenue would go to the general fund, where lawmakers would decide each year how to allocate it.
The controversial bill to enact absentee ballot restrictions would make it a misdemeanor to deliver someone else’s absentee completed ballot or distribute an absentee ballot application prefilled with someone else’s name. It would be a felony to give and receive payment for helping people vote absentee.
Supporters say the change is needed to combat voter fraud, but opponents say it would discourage voting by absentee ballot.
Republican Sen. Garlan Gudger said the bill would stop bad actors “trying to steal our elections”. Gudger said the bill was changed from an initial version that sparked heated debate last year and would have largely prohibited any help with absentee ballots.
Democrats on the committee and opponents who spoke at a public hearing, questioned the need for the bill.
“This bill doesn’t just erect barriers, it obliterates the bridge connecting disenfranchised citizens to their democratic right to vote,” said Tari Williams, who works with a Birmingham-based nonprofit that works with low-income people.
The same committee last week delayed a vote on legislation that would regulate which flags could be displayed outside public property in Alabama. The bill listed certain flags such as the American flag, state and city flags and others that would be allowed. A Democratic lawmaker questioned the need for the bill and language suggesting flags from previous governments would be allowed.
“Are we going to put the Confederate flag all over? The Spanish flag?” asked Sen. Linda Coleman Madison, a Democrat from Birmingham. “It looks like this is opening up a can of worms,” she added.
Asensi Technologies Appointed as Approved Agent by Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Asensi Technologies, a leading provider of Technical Compliance and Certification Services for online Gaming and Gambling companies, proudly announces its appointment as an Approved Agent by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. This partnership further solidifies Asensi Technologies’ commitment to ensuring regulatory compliance and integrity throughout the gaming industry.
With a track record dating back to 2017, Asensi Technologies has been at the forefront of providing Technical Compliance and Certification Services to gaming operators and suppliers alike. Accredited as a gaming laboratory in Spain since 2017 and most recently in Peru on February 13, 2024, Asensi Technologies has continually demonstrated its expertise in facilitating compliance with regulatory requirements.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s decision to designate Asensi Technologies as an Approved Agent reflects the company’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of regulatory compliance and integrity. Asensi Technologies is poised to assist the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in fulfilling its regulatory objectives effectively and efficiently, ensuring the integrity of gaming operations at every level of the industry and supporting all stakeholders in meeting regulatory standards.
“We are honored to be appointed as an Approved Agent by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission,” said Aurora Merino Salas, CEO at Asensi Technologies. “This appointment further validates our dedication to providing comprehensive technical compliance and certification services and also underscores our steadfast commitment to promoting transparency and integrity throughout the gaming industry.”
Asensi Technologies remains fully committed to leveraging its expertise and experience to assist the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in achieving its regulatory objectives. The company’s comprehensive range of services aims to facilitate seamless compliance for gaming operators and suppliers, thereby enhancing trust and confidence in the gaming sector.
“We extend our gratitude to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission for trusting in our capabilities,” added Aurora Merino Salas. “At Asensi Technologies, we are committed to continuing our efforts to uphold the highest standards of regulatory compliance and integrity within the gaming industry. Without a dedicated, committed, and specialized team like that of Asensi Technologies, all these steps forward would be impossible.”
For more information about Asensi Technologies and its suite of Technical Compliance and Certification Services, please visit Asensi website.
NJ Attorney General Platkin Announces the Retirement of Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced the retirement of David L. Rebuck after serving 13 years as the Director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), making him the longest-serving director in DGE’s history. In total, Director Rebuck is retiring with 36 years of service to the State.
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said: “Throughout his career, David Rebuck has exemplified professionalism, innovation, and leadership as the gaming industry transformed, first with the legalization of Internet gaming in 2013 and then with the new era of sports gaming in 2018. His extensive knowledge of the gaming and casino industry has made New Jersey a recognized regulatory leader and pacesetter in the United States. With Dave’s departure, however, I am pleased to announce that Deputy Director Mary Jo Flaherty will assume the role of Interim Director. Mary Jo is a respected and talented lawyer, and brings with her over 40 years of experience of regulating the gaming industry within DGE. I am grateful for her stepping up to lead the Division at this critical time.”
Director Rebuck said: “I have always said the achievements at DGE have not been the result of any one person. I have been privileged and grateful to work with an amazing team at DGE and to serve under two governors and eight attorneys general.”
Rebuck’s career with the Department began as a Deputy Attorney General in January 1988. He provided legal advice in the review of programs and operations within LPS, assisted in the evaluation of the performance of agencies within the Department, and reviewed legislation.
In February 2010, he was assigned to the Governor’s Office as a Senior Policy Advisor. While at the Governor’s Office, Director Rebuck assisted in the Governor’s initiative to reinvigorate Atlantic City and was a member of the “Red Tape Review Group”. Director Rebuck was nominated by Governor Chris Christie to lead DGE on April 29, 2011, and assumed the role of Acting Director on that date. Rebuck was confirmed by the State Senate and sworn in as DGE Director on January 24, 2012.
Rebuck’s tenure at DGE began shortly after P.L. 2011, c. 19 which effectuated the most significant overhaul the Casino Control Act had experienced in its history as of that date. The legislation brought with it sweeping changes, including the assignment to DGE of many responsibilities previously performed by the Casino Control Commission. Under Director Rebuck’s leadership, DGE re-examined the entire set of existing casino regulations to ensure consistency and efficiency. A complete new set of regulations was adopted in December 2011.
Director Rebuck led DGE through additional innovative changes to the gambling industry in New Jersey; in 2013, the State became the first in the country to launch legalized Internet casino gambling, and in 2018, after a protracted legal battle led by New Jersey, commenced legal sports wagering. In addition to overseeing the launch of new forms of gaming, Director Rebuck oversaw the launch of DGE’s Responsible Gambling Initiative last year and implemented enhanced advertising standards for New Jersey’s casino and sports betting industry. He also spearheaded new initiatives to improve casino security and safety in the Tourism District in Atlantic City.
To mark his contributions at DGE, Director Rebuck will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Annual East Coast Gaming Congress (ECGC), becoming only the fifth person in ECGC’s history to receive such recognition. The award will be presented on April 18, 2024 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.
DGE Deputy Director Flaherty’s service as Interim Director is effective Friday, March 1, 2024. Flaherty began her career with DGE in 1979 and holds a J.D. from the Seton Hall Law School. As Deputy Director, she is responsible for overseeing casino licensing, financial analysis and reporting, employee licensing, public records requests, equal employment opportunity within the industry and DGE, ethics compliance, and the release of information to law enforcement agencies and gaming authorities.
Scientific Games Testifies at Maryland House Ways and Means Hearing in Support of Proposed iLottery Legislation
The Public Policy and Government Affairs Senior Vice-President for Scientific Games, Christine Wechsler, testified today before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee to share the company’s support of House Bill 1218, State Lottery – Internet Sales Authorization and Distribution of Proceeds. If adopted, the legislation would authorize the Maryland Lottery to offer its games to in-state consumers through online sales channels.
Wechsler discussed the importance of remaining competitive and modernizing at the same pace as other gaming products offered in the market in order to maintain and grow the Maryland Lottery’s more than $714 million in profits returned annually.
“The Maryland Lottery is like all other businesses selling products to consumers; it must modernize to meet changing consumer demand,” Wechsler said in a prepared testimony. “Providing convenient and relevant experiences to consumers online and at retail will be critical to enable the Maryland Lottery’s sustainability and maximize revenue potential for the state.”
Wechsler also shared key iLottery facts with the Committee as it considers this legislation, which included:
- iLottery doesn’t cannibalize bricks-and-mortar retail sales. Of the twelve United States lotteries selling online today, none have experienced cannibalization at retail. Retail sales have grown faster in iLottery jurisdictions than in states that do not sell online.
- Online sales platforms provide player protections and tools that support healthy, responsible lottery play. Key platform features can include the ability to self-exclude, engage in cooling-off periods and/or set limits on deposit and play amounts.
- iLottery is a new, convenient sales channel to offer lottery products; it is not designed to be a substitute for or compete with casino games. iLottery has proven in other states to successfully co-exist with iCasino, sports betting and other forms of gaming.
As a 27-year partner to the Maryland Lottery, Scientific Games provides the systems technology, terminals and communications infrastructure supporting sales of its lottery games at retail. The company also provides the Maryland Lottery with other key products and services including printed instant games and inventory management software as well as manages the entire interactive category which includes the My Lottery Rewards loyalty program, associated mobile app and second-chance promotions.
“Our focus has always been on delivering solutions and services to facilitate retail growth and maximize profit returned to Maryland’s beneficiaries,” Wechsler said. “And we are invested and fully committed to helping shape a successful iLottery framework for the state that responsibly drives continued growth across the Maryland Lottery’s established bricks-and-mortar retailer network while providing incremental online revenue.
Scientific Games is the global leader in retail instant games, a major provider of retail systems and technology and an industry pioneer in iLottery and digital lottery solutions that drive profits for government-sponsored lottery programs. The company is a trusted partner to more than 130 lotteries spanning 50 countries including over 30 iLottery customers.
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