Marsh’s proposal had been to introduce a state lottery, as well as four casinos, and when the bill was approved by a Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee in August it appeared an important hurdle had been cleared in the bid for it to become law. However, Governor Robert Bentley has always been sceptical and Marsh now concedes there is too much opposition for him to pursue the matter at this stage.
“I can count votes,” he told AL.com. “The votes are not there at this time for the bill. I continue to believe gaming is an idea we should consider given the dollars it would generate for the state and the jobs it would create. But a majority of my colleagues do not agree and I am going to move on."
Marsh believes certain members of the senate are so stubborn in their resistance to the idea of gambling that it could have proved very damaging for him to continue his fight, adding: “I have things I need to get done. Other senators have things they need to get done for their constituencies.
"The fact is we have some members who are so opposed to gaming at this time that for them tying up the whole legislative process, seeing the session crash and burn, was not too high a price to pay to fight the legislation. I was not willing to see that happen."
Previously, Marsh had commissioned a study from Auburn University to demonstrate the potential revenue that casinos and a lottery could bring to the cash-strapped state. The study projected that gambling in Alabama could possibly create 11,000 jobs and $400 million in taxes, which would have significantly improved the state’s financial situation.
Marsh will not stop others from picking up the gauntlet and pushing for a state lottery and casinos, but his decision to switch his focus to other issues will come as a major blow to those supporting his cause and it seems there is no end in sight to the long-running saga.