Alabama Sports Betting Plan Hits a Snag

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Alabama Crimson Tide fans react to a missed field goal during the fourth quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Some lawmakers in Alabama want to allow gambling in the state, but they are having a hard time agreeing on how to do it. The House of Representatives passed a plan last month, but the Senate is not happy with it.

Let’s explore the current challenges facing these initiatives and consider their implications for the future of top-rated online sportsbooks in Alabama.

Alabama’s Gamble

Some senators are strongly against gambling and others want to change the plan.

Sen. Greg Albritton asked other lawmakers to work together on HB 151 and HB 152 to allow gambling in Alabama. The bills would let people bet on sports in the state, but the Alabama Senate Tourism Committee decided not to talk about it.

“As long as Alabama leaves on the ground what we have now, we are running in unregulated, untamed land and doing more and more harm as we go,” Albritton said.

A New Plan May Be in the Works

However, another plan may be in the works because amendments may be necessary to align these bills with stipulations from both the House and Senate.

The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Bobby Singleton, supports gambling and has some places that offer it in his area. He said he liked the House plan, but he thinks there will be a new one soon. Singleton told the Alabama Reflector, “What we need to do is just to come up with something where everybody’s included,” he said. “I have not read what it is, but I do understand that it may be something coming on Tuesday (March 5).”

Albritton, who is carrying the House bills in the Senate, sent a similar message to reporters. He said that two substitutes had been offered for the bill and that he had not seen either of them.

“All I know is yesterday they came forward with a one sheet of paper with concepts,” said Albritton to reporters after the meeting. “I never got the sub. Then last night I was informed at 8:20 p.m. that there was another sub being worked on.”

Poarch Creek Tribe Also Wants Bills Amended

It was also hard to miss that, during the hearing, no representation from the US gambling industry was present. The Poarch Creek Tribe of Indians stood as the sole supporter.

The Poarch Creek Tribe of Indians advocates for gambling expansion in Alabama. However, it seeks adjustments that will be in the best interest of the tribe.

What Would the Bills Allow if Passed?

The bills propose the establishment of an Alabama Lottery, the introduction of multiple casinos within the state and the legalization of online sports betting. Senator Sam Givhan said he did not know what it would take to get the package to the 21 votes needed for passage.

Among the concerns voiced by two represented organizations, the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Policy Institute, are worries about the potential increase in problem gambling resulting from the expansion of gaming.

They’re also expressing apprehension about the impact of large gambling corporations from outside Alabama entering the state’s economic landscape.

Much at Stake With Alabama Sports Betting Bill

The Legislative Services Agency estimates that the potential revenue in Alabama could reach between approximately $635 million and $913 million annually if HB 151 and HB 152 pass.

Speaking during the committee hearing, Albritton emphasized the need for collaboration: “We’ve got to come together, that’s our job. We’ve got to find a way that we can work together to get this resolved. If we don’t, Alabama and Alabamians will suffer.”

HB 151 and HB 152 will undergo further discussion in an Alabama subcommittee this week.