Alabama Governor Ivey creates gambling study group

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Could we see casinos in Alabama? What about a lottery? Those ideas are now in the hands of a working group put together by Governor Kay Ivey.

Twelve people from various background around the state will gather facts to help the governor, legislature and residents make an informed decision on gaming expansion in Alabama. The group is chaired by former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. Ivey is giving the study group until the end of the year to submit a final report.

State representative John Rogers from Birmingham says studying is a waste of time.

"I call it backwards Bama. It’s another backwards Bama move. Study what? We are losing money to other states,” Rogers, D-Birmingham said.

Rogers feels the issue not being talked about by the governor is the role the Poarch Band of Creek Indians could play here. Over the past few months, the Poarch Band has hit the airwaves touting a $1 billion gaming package that includes a lottery.

"The real bugaboo, the real fly in the ointment is Indian gaming. They don’t want to talk about it which means that Indians get a chance to have casino type gaming once you get a lottery. So that’s the real problem. They are concerned about Indian gaming,” Rogers said.

Republican State Representative Steve Clouse says he wants to tackle a lottery this session and not wait on results from the governor’s work group. Clouse is hoping to file an education lottery bill in the coming weeks.

"A total of 45 states have lotteries now. So there's been plenty of study all over the country from 45 different states about a lottery, and all are still in business. So I think it's time to move forward,” Clouse said.

Three people on the governor's study group are from our area:

Carl Jamison of Tuscaloosa with Jamison Money Farmer PC.

Liz Huntley, a litigation attorney in Birmingham with Lightfoot, Franklin and White LLC.

Bishop B. Mike Watson of the Canterbury United Methodist Church.

We’re still waiting to hear back from them about what they hope to accomplish. Ivey says the final say about gaming belongs to the people. She’s wants everyone to have a full set of facts though before a possible statewide vote.