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Friday, August 21, 2009

Sparks Affirms his Pro-Gambling Stance

Statement by Ron Sparks on Casino Gambling and Economic Development

"Alabama is facing the some of the most difficult economic times in our history.

"I’m running for Governor because I want to change the future of Alabama. I’m the only candidate for Governor with a specific plan to pay for that change.

"I am offering a specific plan for the future of our children, our education system, funding Medicaid, and insuring for our seniors the future they deserve.

"Casino gambling is an industry. It is an industry that is growing like kudzu across Alabama right now. Alabama residents are spending a billion dollars a year in casinos right now but our state realizes virtually no income from this billion-dollar industry.

"This week, I held press conferences in Selma, Montgomery, Mobile, and Birmingham. When I’m Governor, unless the people of those counties vote to do otherwise, I will fight to bring upscale casino gambling to those areas.

"In addition to the revenues Alabama could realize from gaming itself, the average upscale casino employees about 1,000 workers. Add to this the thousands of other jobs in the restaurant and hotel business created by casinos and the economic impact of the casino business is staggering.

"If we didn’t have any car dealerships in Alabama and our people were spending millions in Mississippi buying cars, I would be standing here talking about building more car dealerships. It’s a matter of simple economics – supply and demand.

"According to the regulating agencies in Mississippi, Alabamians made almost 4 million visits to casinos last year. Gross gambling revenues in Mississippi exceeded $1.2 billion last year and taxes from gambling amounted to almost $660 million for the past two years.

"That’s $330 million a year from a state that has little more than half the population of Alabama.
Over 36% of the coastal gambling customers are from surrounding states closer to Alabama than Mississippi, and 44% of the northern gambling establishment customers come from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, or Tennessee. Only one-fourth of the coastal gambling customers come from Mississippi, and only 18% of the northern gambling establishments come from Mississippi.
It is no wonder Mississippi gambling interests oppose Alabama gambling initiatives—Casinos in Alabama would dig into hundreds of millions of Mississippi tourism dollars every year and keep those Alabama dollars here at home.

"The casino industry will have a gigantic impact on state revenues, but it will also be a game changer for local economies and local governments.

"According to Mississippi Gaming Commission last year alone, Casinos in Biloxi pumped over 980 Million Dollars of revenue into the city’s economy. The average casino in Mississippi employs over 1000 people. The Gaming Industry in Biloxi alone employs 10,000 people.
We must regulate the gambling industry and develop it like we would any other emerging industry. If elected Governor, I will regulate the gaming industry and I will treat it as an economic development opportunity.

"I promise to the bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in local economic impact. I promise to fight to bring the jobs and businesses associated with a casino that will fund better schools, better services and a better way of life.

"I have laid out specific plants that will fund the Special Education Trust Fund, Medicaid and a new Agriculture Relief fund. I have laid out a plan for you that generates hundreds of millions of dollars for Alabama. Before anybody criticizes my plan, they should be required to explain how they plan to generate this much money for the state.
The difference between me and the others in this race is that I have a plan and I am willing to present it to the voters and fight to make it a reality."

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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August 21, 2009 at 10:19 PM  

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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