Republican lawmakers are looking everywhere for money to fill the shortfall in the general fund budget, and that now includes possibly a lottery and expanded gaming.
Some leaders say the state needs to look at the numbers before raising any taxes.
This all comes after a study commissioned by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. He says he wants lawmakers to look at all the options before making a decision about the general fund budget.
The governor says the state is short 700 million dollars. Lawmakers aren’t sure if it’s quite that much, but either way, there’s a big hole in the budget this year.
Senator Del Marsh says gambling could be the answer.
A study from Auburn Montgomery says the impact could be huge for the state, bringing in 400 million dollars and adding 11,000 jobs.
“When we’re faced with these numbers it gives you the information you need to weigh this against perhaps some social issues that are not favorable. We’ll have to weigh all that out and determine what’s best for the state,” said Marsh.
The study looks at expanding gaming in the four tracks and casinos in the state, including Victoryland and Greenetrack.
That would allow table games and slots at those facilities.
This however, would not be a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians who run other facilities in the state.
The study also took into account creating a state lottery.
One of the researchers says the over one billion dollars in economic impact is actually a conservative estimate.
“But I should mention there would be other things like restaurants in those areas, in those casinos and surrounding areas, we did not include those in our estimations,” said Suman Majumdar, senior consultant with AUM Outreach.
Marsh says he passed around the study to every member of the senate and Speaker Mike Hubbard Friday.
Any measure would require a vote of the people, but Marsh says it’s possible a special election could get the revenue in for this next year.
“What this kind of revenue does is takes you from filling the hole and kicking the can to having a revenue source you can actually prioritize and move forward long term in a budget,” said Marsh.
Democrats have already sponsored a lottery bill this session, but Marsh says he expects republicans will want to come up with their own