Tears and Laughter: Legislature folded, with a winning hand


John 3:16 is spelled out in lights on a sign outside a pharmacy in Frisco City. I never drive by it day or night that it doesn’t pull my attention. It reminds me not just of the scripture, but of how thankful I am to be living in a region of the country where rather than touting a sale on Rolaids, a pharmacy chooses instead to advertise John 3:16.

I pass through Frisco City about once a week, twice sometimes. If I don’t it is because I chose instead to go to R & R State Line Lotto via Brewton. I go to Florida to buy lottery tickets and then, on the way back I will usually drop by and visit the Poarch Band of Creek Indians at Wind Creek Casino in Atmore.

There are two types of people in the world, those who admit they gamble, and those who don’t. A lot of our attitude on gambling probably mirrors what we learned as kids. When you are taught when you are young that something is wrong, it will feel wrong forever whether it actually is or not.

Growing up, my mother’s family did not believe in it. They could garden and they washed their car every Saturday afternoon before church on Sunday morning, but they did not participate in any games of chance. But Daddy’s people were known to occasionally place a wager. So I have no issue with picking a few numbers for the daily Play 4 drawings, and I will spend the better part of an evening feeding a Flamingo Night’s machine.

Call it a Class II slot machine, call it bingo, whatever, but I like the dancing pink Flamingo and it is completely legal in Alabama. It is also perfectly fine for me to bring lottery tickets home from Florida with me to play all week. I would buy Alabama lottery tickets, but the Alabama legislature chose again not to give the citizens of Alabama a vote on whether to even have a lottery or not – in part because they are not sure how to implement it or what to do with the revenue it would produce.

Forty some odd other states already manage to have a lottery, maybe the Secretary of the Lottery in any of those states could explain to Alabama how they got started. It must not be reinventing the wheel.

I don’t understand gambling here. You can bet on a chance to have a pink Flamingo dance for you during the bonus round on a “bingo” machine, but not in Macon County at Victoryland. Plus Fantasy Sports operators, DraftKings and FanDuel, had to go. They complied with attorney General Luther Strange’s order to cease paid daily operations in Alabama by May 1.

In a press release Strange said he was pleased to report that paid Fantasy Football contests within the state have stopped. He said it was illegal under Alabama law and that it is his duty to uphold the law. I guess you can’t argue the man that, but it just feels strange for people in Alabama not to have certain freedoms with something as simple as gaming while other states do.

Morals are still strong in Alabama, where there are people who will advertise John 3:16. But morals, we’ve noticed, do not lead in the State House and lawmakers should maybe consider tweaking the gambling laws. And…never admit as a legislative body that you do not know what to do with extra proceeds. If nothing else, take a chance on turning it into more.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.