A local candidate for State Senate would like to expand gambling in the state, which he believes could benefit the economy.
Beau Doolittle, a Democratic candidate for Senate District 35 in Mobile County, believes supporting a tribal-state compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to allow for table games could bring in more money for the state’s general fund. The compact, which is 10 years in the making, would allow the state to get a portion of the proceeds from table games operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. One such location where the tribe could expand its operations would be Mobile Greyhound Park, which is in District 35, campaign representative Amy McGhee said.
Doolittle said reaching an agreement with the tribe would be a win-win because it would help bolster the state’s general fund and improve what he called an “education crisis.”
“Attempts to block a tribal-state compact display outdated thinking and antiquated business strategy,” Doolittle said in a statement. “Alabama is the only state in the country that has failed to capture any revenue from tribal gaming. This just doesn’t make good sense as our state continues to face economic hardship and the inability to provide our children with the education they deserve.”
Doolittle will face Republican Bill Hightower in the November election. Doolittle accused Hightower of having “antiquated notions” about gaming.
Hightower said he understands the economic struggles of the stats and that residents don’t want new taxes, but that the expansion of gambling wasn’t the answer.
“Gambling is not an economic miracle,” he said. “It’s an economic disease and so I’m not for anything that expands it.”
The answer is looking for productive industry and focusing on small business as well, Hightower said.
“With gambling comes an increased divorce rate, an increased petty crime rate and more title loan companies,” Hightower said. “An expansion of gambling would destroy the fabric of this community that makes us appealing to new industry.”
Story updated to add comments from Bill Hightower.