Alabama Rep. John Rodgers

  • Alabama is one of only five states in the nation without a state lottery.
  • House Bill 199 that has been pre-filed in the Heart of Dixie would make a state lottery and legalize retail/mobile sports betting in Alabama.
  • The Alabama Legislature has until May 30 to decide on whether to approve the bill for a state vote as it requires a constitutional amendment.

MONTGOMERY, Ala.Alabama lawmakers are going all-in with their proposals to legalize various forms of gambling in the state.

The Alabama Legislature will begin their 2021 session on Tuesday and adjourn for the year on May 30, giving those within the House and Senate nearly four months to decide on the fate of gaming bills that have been filed.

Two such bills have already started to process with one being pre-filed prior to the opening day of the Legislature. Each bill seeks to open up a state lottery, while the two differ in one wanting sports betting with the lottery while the other wants a casino gaming industry.

The Sports Betting & Lottery Bill

Within the entire United States, Alabama is only one of five that remains without a lottery of its own. State Representative John Rogers (D-Birmingham), who has worked since 1985 as a lawmaker in the Heart of Dixie and is the sponsor behind House Bill 199 hopes to change this.

Rogers is no stranger to the legislative process and has a long history of being an advocate in getting a legalized gambling industry that has both a state lottery and sports betting in Alabama.

House Bill 199 would like to amend section 65 within the Alabama Constitution which would allow for a lottery to open through such an amendment. Along with this request in Rogers’ bill is that to open a sports wagering market in the state. The sports betting section of his proposal would have both retail and mobile sportsbooks for Alabamans to enjoy.

Land-based locations eligible to apply for a license would include all horse racing and dog tracks statewide as well as the three Tribal Wind Creek casinos of Alabama.

Under AL HB 199, a Sports Wagering Committee is requested to be able to extend various other licenses within the industry to outside businesses and interested parties. During a study on wagering in the Heart of Dixie that was requested by Governor Kay Ivey in 2020, findings suggested at least $700 million in yearly revenue from legal lottery, sports betting, and casino gaming markets.

House Bill 199 has detailed where the profits generated from a state lottery would go with 40 percent being put toward the education system, 40 percent going toward the general fund, and the remaining 20 percent being put toward the Alabama Department of Corrections.

What’s Next For Alabama

The other bill that would like time on the floor of the Alabama Legislature in 2021 does not reference a legal sports betting industry. Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Talladega) wants a state lottery and Class III Gaming for the three Tribal casinos in the state.

This gaming would require a Tribal Gaming Compact between the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and Alabama.

There is no such contract now which is why the casinos only offer bingo at this time. Marsh’s proposal would have casino games and a lottery open to residents with profits going toward getting more areas in Alabama access to high-speed internet and funding for scholarships in higher education.

The Alabama Legislature has until May 30 to discuss the fate of these two bills. Should sports betting be classified as Class III gaming, it could be included in Marsh’s bill during future hearings on the floor.

While both bills aim to bring more funding to the Heart of Dixie, Governor Kay Ivey has said that she would have the final say on whether or not any gambling bills that receive passage in the House and Senate and land on her desk become law.

And with the sports betting bill, a constitutional amendment would need to see a public vote where 60% of Alabama would need to be in favor of a legal lottery and a sports betting industry for the state to move forward.

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