Constitutional amendment aimed at nixing games of chance in southern state

Alabama state Senator Hank Erwin Jnr. is not only intent on putting a stop to gambling in the southern state - he wants to remove the state legislature's right to authorise any gambling activity, too.

Erwin's Senate Bill 470 is currently on its way to the Tourism and Marketing Sub-committee for debate, where at least one of its provisions will attract plenty of opposition, reading as it does:

"The legislature shall have no power to authorize any gambling activity, including, but not limited to, lotteries, or gift enterprises, or any other games of chance, including, but not limited to, pari-mutuel wagering for any purposes, and such activity shall be illegal." And the senator is looking ahead in seeking to short circuit any gambling law approvals by adding a proviso insists on a statewide vote for any future constitutional amendments cocerned with the authorisation any form of gambling.

Probably taking hints from the extensive poker legal argument on the definition of the phrase "game of chance", Erwin has included this definition in his proposal:

"(a) It is played or engaged in for consideration or by staking or risking money or some other thing of value. (b) It is played or engaged in for the purpose of obtaining money or other thing of value or results in the distribution of money or other thing of value. (c) The outcome, measured by a single play or over multiple plays, is determined in material degree by chance, notwithstanding that the outcome is also determined in equal or greater degree by other factors."

Careful not to antagonise too many voters, supporters or fellow politicians, Alabama Senate Bill 470 specifically excludes business transactions, stock and commodity sales, and insurance from its jurisdiction, and seeks to restrict bingo to non-commercial operators such as religious, charitable, educational, fraternal, or benevolent nonprofit organizations.

Erwin has a long row to hoe if he wants to bring his proposal into Alabama law. Because it is a constitutional amendment, it must be approved by three-fifths of the members of the House of Representatives and Senate before being referred for a public vote where it must achieve a clear majority.

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