Gambling in Alabama: A good bet for business?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Some Republicans in the Alabama legislature are looking to gambling as a possible way out of the state’s budget problem.

Senate President Pro Tempore, Del Marsh, is pushing a bill to allow a state lottery and four casinos.

The casinos would be located at the state’s four dog tracks in Birmingham, Mobile, Macon County and Greene County.

Birmingham’s Mayor, William Bell, says he loves the idea.

“We have the ability to transform this state– I know transform Birmingham– into an economic and convention destination by having such facilities,” Bell said in Montgomery Tuesday.

But do local business owners think the stakes are too high?

Joseph Baker, manager of Bottle & Bone in Birmingham and founder of the civic activism group, I Believe in Birmingham, said he’d be excited if a casino came to his neighborhood.

“There’s always that challenge of trying to get people– especially with the downtown renaissance going on– getting more people down here, creating new things for them to do and new opportunities,” Baker said. “People would travel into town to go there, and so there’s a great chance of us getting a lot more customers as a result of that.”

Marsh’s bill is met by its fair share of opponents.

We asked Baker if he thought a casino would be big enough to take business away from the little guys.

He didn’t think so.

“If you have anybody from out of town that is traveling, theres a very good chance they’re going to want to patronize some of the other businesses and event spaces at Birmingham.”

Other business owners and managers downtown told WIAT 42 News they’d rather wait to learn more about future plans before forming an opinion on a local casino.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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