Gaming is here; legalize it, create jobs

Published 12:01 am Saturday, April 25, 2015

Alabama’s Gov. Robert Bentley is correct; Alabama has a $500 – $700 million dollar hole to fill, (depending on who you talk to). The State is broke and the Governor’s solution is a $700 million dollar tax increase. He is fighting legislators who ran on a “no new tax” pledge, however, without new taxes the Governor warns of major cuts coming if the legislators don’t raise our taxes. A few of the cuts include;

• The court system in Alabama will face major lay-offs and more delays.

• Mental health treatment will be cut. Over 14,000 Alabamians with mental illness will lose therapy sessions.

• Our children will suffer. 30,000 children would lose food stamps.

• Our prison system will be in bigger trouble. Prisoners who are overcrowding the jails currently could be set free.

• Many State parks would close.

• With cut backs comes layoffs and loss of jobs.

The list goes on and on. Folks yes, the Governor is correct. We have a big problem and need a solution. But perhaps we should consider a better solution than just taxing us all. Why not tax and regulate gaming? Gaming goes on every day in our state, you can’t ignore this any longer, tax it. Four years ago when Governor Bentley ran for his first term one of his promises was to let the people vote on gaming. Now it is time to let the people vote.

The Poarch Creek Indians and the dog tracks have gaming every day. The dog tracks are taxed, but the 3 major casinos in our State run by the Native Americans are not State, County or City taxed, and they are putting the dog tracks, out of business (the only businesses being taxed). What is wrong with this picture? Plenty!

Why not level the playing field? By that I mean allow the same games played every day in the Native American’s casinos at the dog tracks, where gaming is already legal, and tax them? Other States do.

Why not form a pact with the Native Americans and tax them also? Other States do.

Let’s not advance the spread of gaming, but TAX it. Then if you go to these dog tracks and casinos you will pay the tax. If you don’t go, you won’t pay the tax. This is called a “volunteer tax.” Same thing with a lottery; if you play, you pay the tax.

We have four dog tracks and three major casinos in the State: Creek Casino Atmore, Creek Casino Wetumpka and Creek Casino Montgomery…all in operation. Do not advance gaming, but allow the same games at all facilities, regulate and tax them all.

This will not only begin to close our $500 – $700 million dollar shortfall, but will create JOBS…something the governor’s plan will not do. His plan will eliminate jobs. The gaming industry will drive new businesses. Just the Birmingham Race Course alone could add 3,500 additional jobs for Alabamians, return horse racing to Birmingham, and have a tremendous impact on Eastern Jefferson County.

This plan will not only create new jobs, but will create new revenues in sales tax and employee taxes…again closing the budget deficit without taxing the citizens. Makes sense to me, how about you?

Call your legislator today and tell them, the time is NOW. It’s time to let the people vote. Let us decide. Do we want additional taxes or do we want to tax the Native Americans and dog tracks? We need jobs. We were promised a vote 4 years ago on gaming and we are in deeper debt than before. Why not let the people vote? Let’s call for a vote and not ignore our right to vote on taxation.


Monty Ballard

Ballard Advertising president