By Charles McCrary
Vice President, Alabama Jobs Foundation
I believe the time has come to let the people of Alabama vote on a state lottery and casino gaming.
That’s why I joined with former Auburn head football coach Pay Dye and Alabama business leader Raymond Harbert in forming the Alabama Jobs Foundation, a group dedicated to letting the people vote on a state lottery/gaming constitutional amendment.
Alabama citizens are already gambling in casinos and they are already playing the lottery– they are just not doing it here. They are taking their money and traveling to boarder states. They are funding infrastructure for state services in surrounding states. They are funding education scholarships for students in other states. They are growing jobs for citizens in others states.
That is why I support the constitutional amendment proposed by Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh. His plan creates an Alabama lottery and opens the way for casino gaming at Native American casinos and at the four existing non-Native American casinos located in Mobile, Birmingham, Macon and Greene County.
Is it the answer to all woes? Of course not. No one industry is. But it’s difficult for me to turn my back on thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue that we are now exporting to our boarder states.
The economic impact of such a plan is staggering. An Alabama lottery and casino gaming would create 11,000 new jobs for the our families and have a $1.2 billion annual economic impact on the state of Alabama, says a new study by the Institute for Accountability and Government Efficiency at Auburn University of Montgomery. That’s 11,000 jobs produced without a single economic incentive from the state.
More importantly, this plan will generate more than $400 million in new revenue for the state of Alabama, a real long-term piece of the solution to our financial crisis without raising taxes or decimating state services.
The Marsh proposal will allow Alabama to be a truer destination state, with casino convention centers, restaurants, and entertainment that will not only draw new money from other states to Alabama, but keep Alabama dollars right here in Alabama, dollars that currently go to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi. This is not a choice between whether we have gaming or not. This plan only allows gaming in sites where gaming takes place already every single day and, it will provide regulation for ALL gaming in the state.
The Marsh Plan does not ask a single legislator to vote for or against gaming. It asks them to vote for or against the right of the people to make this decision. For lawmakers, the question is do you respect the people of Alabama enough to simply let them vote?
11,000 new jobs. $1.2 billion economic impact. $400 million in new revenue. As a businessman and as a taxpaying citizen of our state, I have never seen a clearer decision.
Charles McCrary is the retired CEO of Alabama Power and presently serves as Vice President of the Alabama Jobs Foundation.