Alabama Senator Del Marsh.

  • Alabama will not be seeing casinos, sports betting, or a state lottery after a bill wanting to legalize those three areas has been axed.
  • The Heart of Dixie estimated a sum of $500 million – $700 million be made through annual revenue if Senate Bill 214 were to become law.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – On Tuesday, the Alabama Legislature shut the door for one bill that would have legalized gambling and sports betting statewide.

Senate Bill 214, pioneered by Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) did not receive the three-fifths majority vote needed for passage to move forward in the legislative process.

The poll was almost split, however, the bill lost by a slim two votes.

What Went Wrong?

Legal sports betting in Alabama is something that has been touched on each session since the repeal of PASPA. But gambling is a serious topic for a state who has a history of largely opposing the opening of such industries in the Heart of Dixie. And to go from not having anything to a bill proposal like AL SB 214 that wanted to open up multiple sectors was a huge leap in itself to try and pass.

Senate Bill 214 wanted to open up a state lottery because Alabama is one of the few remaining states left in the nation without one, construct up to ten different casinos throughout the state that would offer all styles of casino gaming, and have sportsbooks made legal. Three different types of gambling all wrapped up into one bill for a state that hasn’t warmed up to the idea of gaming is a huge ask and could be the reason why the proposal failed to receive the votes.

“Today’s vote by the Alabama Senate confirms more work must be done because this issue is too important to not get it right,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “No doubt gambling is complex and challenging, but I remain committed to giving the people of Alabama the final say. I also believe the work of my Study Group last year can continue to be helpful in finding the right path as we move forward. Should the Legislature wish to continue discussions on this topic, I stand ready and willing to engage.”

What’s Next For Alabama?

Alabama sports betting is something that will have to wait. For now, sports bettors will have to travel west to Mississippi to use land-based sportsbooks and north to Tennessee to use mobile sportsbooks.

Proponents argued that offering a safe, transparent, and state-regulated way to do it would not only benefit sports bettors of Alabama but the economy as well with the added revenue streams the new industry would bring with it. Senate Bill 214 was going to put the bulk of revenue from the market into the education system of Alabama.

But the wall they’re up against is a hard one. Legal gambling in Alabama requires a constitutional amendment that needs 21 favorable votes from the 35-member Senate for any proposal to receive passage. AL SB 214 had a final vote of 19-13. Opposition during the hearing for the bill stated that rather than face gambling problems in Alabama by legalizing the market, addiction programs should be put in place instead.

There is plenty more that will be discussed on legal sports betting in Alabama before the 2021 session adjourns on May 30. And while AL SB 214 was voted out, any one of the Senate members that voted against it could speak up to bring it back for another vote but that seems like a bet no real gambler would be willing to take.

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