Alabama Department of Mental Health

Supporters and critics of legalized gambling and an Alabama state lottery are scheduled to meet in Montgomery today.

If approved by voters, the measure would allow casino gambling at four state dog tracks along with lotto drawings. Critics of lotteries claim they’re a tax on the poor and a study by the non-partisan John Locke Foundation in North Carolina appears to support that idea.

Foundation spokesman Mitch Kokai says they examined who bought tickets during the first year of North Carolina’s lottery in 2007.

mh.alabama.gov / Alabama Department of Mental Health

Alabama Department of Mental Health officials say Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon is expected to close on Oct. 31 and admissions to the south Alabama facility will cease on Sept. 17.

Plans to close Searcy were announced in April. But Mental Health Commissioner Jim Reddoch told hospital employees the closing date Tuesday.

Department officials said the closing is part of a nationwide trend to provide community-based mental health treatment.