Alabama Lawmaker Proposes Casino and Lottery Bill As of the time of this writing (May 5, 2015) Republican State Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh is introducing a constitutional amendment to the Alabama State Senate regarding his state’s stance on the lottery and casinos. Currently, Alabama has been in dire straits regarding its finances and needs quite a bit of additional revenue. Governor Robert Bentley (R) says that, without additional revenue, the state will lose 130 law enforcement officials and 13 trooper posts. The state has already cut 5,500 state jobs and $1 billion from the budget and education, but advisors are saying that it’s not enough to create a sustainable economy. Although both Bentley and Marsh are in agreeance that the state is in troubled times, they stand on separate sides of the fence regarding the new legislation. Bentley believes that a half billion dollar tax plan, which would close corporate tax loopholes, eliminate exemptions and credits for banks, and raise auto and cigarette taxes, is the answer, stating “Alabama is better than” gambling revenue. Bentley is also concerned about the sustainability of gambling money, which isn’t an unfounded concern. Gambling experts agree that the state would see an initial boom from the legalization of gambling but the long-term profits will only raise slightly, if at all, and will likely not keep up with Alabama’s increasing budgetary needs. Marsh disagrees and states that he’d rather let the people have a voice in the matter, allowing them to vote on the issue in the next election. He states that he is not trying to bring Las Vegas to Alabama (as Bentley is concerned about) but that casinos would simply be expansions of the state’s four dog tracks as well as the Poarch Creek Indian casinos. He states that these measures, along with a compact with Poarch Creek, would bring into the state some $400 million dollars through a gambling revenue tax of 13%. That amount of money, Marsh says, is around what’s leaving Alabama for other states and he believes that “Alabama dollars [should stay] in Alabama.” Marsh is also optimistic about the surge in employment, saying that the casinos would open up 11,000 new jobs. Although there are many opposed to the proposition, some are in favor, and some others say that they are willing to listen. Senator Larry Stutts (R) says that he’s opposed but willing to hold judgment until he’s heard all the data. His opposition is similar to Bentley’s, believing the gambling business is too hit and miss to have their economy depend on it. He may be right, given Macau’s current situation. Even with the casinos, some say, a tax hike is inevitable. In order to pass the bill still has to pass committee and the Senate with a 3/5 majority vote after which time it will be put on the ballot for the people to decide. The Riviera’s Storied 60-Year History Comes to an End Although the Riviera had its 60th birthday on April 20th, it closed its doors on May 4th at noon. The 2.100 room, 23-story hotel was one of the most famous casinos in the world, being featured in movies such as “Casino,” the original “Oceans 11,” and “The Hangover.” After opening in 1955, it hosted some of the grandest and most well known shows and spectacles of all time, one of which was “Splash,” which ran between 1985 and 2006. But the glitz and glamor didn’t start there. Soon after the casino opened it was host to huge names with Liberace being its first headliner, followed by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis, and other legendary performers. Although the casino was a beacon, and somewhat of an ambassador, of Las Vegas, it had a tumultuous history starting from its very beginnings. It was famously connected to the mob, being proposed by William Bischoff in 1952, being passed on to the S&G Gambling syndicate member Samuel Cohen until 1955. After that time there were several mob related murders of high-profile owners and managers of the casino until, finally, in 1968, when it was free of mob money. But mob money wasn’t the only trouble it had. Just months after opening it filed for bankruptcy and did so several more times in 1983, 1991, and 2010. But it was the recession that was the final blow that brought the famous landmark down. With lagging development, reducing foot-traffic into the casino, it had a steady decline and hadn’t seen a profit since 2011. With the closure came the loss of 1.300 jobs, which officially ended at noon on Monday. Though it was being overshadowed by flashier resorts, the Riviera still maintained its own personality with the “Crazy Girls” show and bronze statue out front. Both of these famous draws will be moved to Planet Hollywood further down The Strip. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the property in February and plans to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center to The Strip. Although there is no solid date for when the hotel will be leveled, a spokeswoman for the Authority stated that it would likely be before year’s end and Jeff Kutash, producer of “Splash,” said that he plans to be there to see the building go down. With this closure, Vegas is one step closer to losing many of the famous vestiges of its past, the last of which are The Flamingo, opened by Bugsy Siegel in 1946, and SLS (formerly the Sahara) from 1952. The hotel’s property will be liquidated beginning May 14th.