The future of gambling under Governor Ivey

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Lawmakers in the halls of Alabama’s State House went back to work Tuesday under a new Governor: Kay Ivey.

Ivey was sworn in Monday evening after her predecessor, Robert Bentley, resigned after pleading guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance charges.

While there are 12 working days left in the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers have plenty of work to tackle; prison reform and a gas tax are two big items still on the agenda.

Lawmakers on both side of the aisle don’t think gambling will make the list under Governor Ivey.

Democrats, like Rep. Rod Scott of Fairfield, says gambling is a partisan issue, that won’t change as long as Republicans overwhelmingly control the state government.

“I really don’t sense that there’s been a change within the voting blocks, within Alabama, concerning gambling,” Scott said.

In 2016, lawmakers debated late into the night during a special session, before a bill to create a lottery in Alabama ultimately failed. That year also saw the grand re-opening of Victoryland, a large electronic bingo hall, three years after it was shut down in a raid conducted under Bentley.

In an executive order last year, Bentley dictated that local law enforcement could decide how to enforce state gambling laws.

Sen. Cam Ward, a Republican from Alabaster, said that executive order, and subsequent court decisions allowing the state to keep electronic bingo machines it had seized, were enough to settle the issue.

“I’m not so sure what policy change can be done, unless it has something to do with a compact with one of the (Native American) tribes,” Ward said. “That’s in the purview of the Governor’s office, but I don’t think governor Ivey said she would decide on such a matter yet.”

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