Alabama Sports Betting

  • Alabama Senator Greg Albritton told the Associated Press earlier this week that he plans to introduce a casino and lottery bill at the beginning of the next legislative session.
  • Albritton told the AP that the bill will likely authorize a state lottery as well as allow the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to reach a Class III gaming compact with the state.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama has long been home to some of the most restrictive gambling laws in the United States. However, that may soon change, as Alabama Senator Greg Albritton told the Associated Press this week that he plans to introduce a casino and lottery bill at the beginning of the next legislative session on January 11.

Alabama remains one of only four states that do not offer a lottery or a commercial casino inside their borders (along with Utah, Alaska, and Hawaii) after years of failed efforts to pass gambling legislation. Currently, the only form of legal gambling available in Alabama are Class II tribal casinos, which can offer bingo-style gaming machines.

What Will The Bill Do?

Albritton told the AP that the exact details of the planned legislation are yet to be hammered down; however, the bill is expected to both authorize a state-operated lottery and allow Alabama’s sole federally-recognized tribe (the Poarch Band of Creek Indians) to reach a Class III gaming compact with the state to provide gaming.

If the state and the tribe were to agree to a Class III gaming compact, the tribe would be permitted to operate table games such as blackjack, roulette, and poker as well as slot machines.

There is also a chance the bill allows Alabama’s pari-mutuel racetracks to bid on licenses that would allow them to incorporate table games and slot machines. It is unclear if Albritton plans to incorporate legal sports betting into the bill after SB 319 – a measure to add legal sports betting in Alabama – died on the Senate floor earlier in 2021.

Albritton also believes that the state should use any tax revenue generated through gaming for a variety of Alabama’s mental health programs.

Politicians Fear Supporting Bill With Upcoming Re-Elections

There is one potential roadblock in the way of Albritton’s planned legislation, though: some believe that the bill will be difficult – if not impossible – to pass in 2022, which is a major election year.

The state will hold a primary in May on top of the November 8 general election. Many notable politicians will be seeking re-election in the socially-conservative Alabama, so there are fears that supporting a gambling legalization bill could be a death sentence for Alabama’s politicians.

While this fear is certainly understandable, the measure cannot pass against the will of the voters of Alabama anyway: in order to legalize commercial casinos and a lottery, the state’s constitution must be amended. In order to amend the state’s constitution, the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate must pass the bill with at least three-fifths of the votes in favor.

After that, the measure would be placed on the general election ballot, where it would need a simple majority to be enacted.

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