The Alabama Legislature

  • Alabama had a shot to get sports betting, casino gaming, and a state lottery on the November 2022 ballot through Senate Bill 319 but chose not to pass the measure.
  • Monday marked the last day of the legislative session for the Heart of Dixie and AL SB 319 did not get its third reading on the floor for a vote, having it die for 2021.
  • Regulating these markets saw an estimated annual revenue of over $700 million for Alabama, whose earliest hope at getting an expansion on gaming is now 2025 rather than 2023.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Legislature held its final day of the 2021 session on Monday where the state did not move forward with sports betting legislation. Lawmakers decided not to discuss Senate Bill 319, which would have made regulated gaming and sports wagering a possibility in the Heart of Dixie. The measure passed in the Senate on April 13 where it was then read in the House on April 15.

The House of Representatives heard the bill for the second time on May 4. A third reading would have resulted in Senate Bill 319 receiving a vote to either pass or fail but a third reading never took place. Advocates close to the situation previously said it would be highly doubtful that the proposal would be read and voted on during the last day of the session and they were correct in saying so, having the bill die for 2021.

What Senate Bill 319 Would’ve Brought To Alabama

Although a study was done on how regulated sports betting and gaming would impact Alabama positively, it was still not enough to sway the House of Representatives to approve the measure for passage. The bill itself wasn’t meant to regulate the industries, it was drawn up to put the subjects on the November 2022 ballot and have the constituents of Alabama decide for themselves, as the state’s constitution requires a vote on opening up the gambling markets.

Proponents of the expansion felt that it was too risky to allow casino games, a state lottery, and sports betting in Alabama which is why AL SB 319 did not receive its final reading during Monday’s hearing. Rather than be helpful to the economy of which the markets could have seen a combined annual profit estimated to be upwards of $700 million, government officials against the bill felt that it would be too harmful to the people of the state in creating gambling addiction problems.

Proponents argued that Alabama sports betting is already happening every day. Residents use outside outlets like neighboring states to wager on sporting events. The only thing that amending the state’s constitution would change in regards to bringing regulated gaming to the Heart of Dixie is having the state see profits from very lucrative revenue streams. Another argument proponents made was that the bill would’ve been able to provide Alabamans with consumer protections they currently cannot find through betting with other platforms.

Still, this was not enough to sway enough Representatives in the House to pass the bill to the Governor. Disagreements on how the money from legal gambling would be used along with moral disagreements prevailed. House members instead focused on other issues to close out the 2021 legislative session.

Final Thoughts

If Senate Bill 319 would have passed, retail and mobile sportsbooks could have been possibilities for 2023, as well as casino establishments and a lottery if Alabamans voted in favor of these markets in 2022. Unfortunately, Alabama will likely not be seeing any gaming expansions in 2023.

Of course, the 2022 session could always pass a similar measure and get the subject on the ballot for November, however, 2022 will be a busy legislative year for the Heart of Dixie which may put the subject of gaming on the backburner until the 2023 session. Should this occur, the November 2024 ballot would be the state’s next available time for action.

With that scenario in mind, the best that could be hoped for is a 2025 launch of sports betting, casinos, and a lottery. Yet advocates are still holding out hope for a 2022 passage and a 2023 launch of the gaming markets for Alabamans statewide.

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