Alabama Will Remain One of Five States Without a Lottery

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A signboard for one of the largest lottery jackpots in US history, estimated at 1.73 billion is displayed. Frederic J. Brown / AFP

It hurt Alabama gambling supporters enough when sports betting was ripped from legislation that would have legalized it AND a state lottery. But now, there’s no hope for either becoming a reality… at least this year.

The Alabama legislature adjourned without passing HB 151 and HB 152, bills that would have legalized an Alabama Lottery. These bills were part of a proposal that initially included Alabama sports betting. However, the Senate removed the sports betting provision, and the issue did not make it into a conference committee compromise. Additionally, voter approval at a special election in August would have been necessary.

Lottery Bill Ran Into Trouble During Initial Vote

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the gambling legislation, but the Senate removed significant portions of the proposal, including sports betting and casino gaming. Subsequently, a conference committee assembled a final attempt, which included the following components:

  1. Alabama Lottery
  2. Electronic games of chance at seven locations
  3. Compact negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians

But even after the changes, it encountered another roadblock in the Senate.  It failed by just one vote. The critical issue revolved around an August 20 special election, where voters would have had the opportunity to decide if a lottery and limited electronic casino gambling should be added to the Alabama State Constitution. 

Since HB151 was a constitutional amendment, it required 21 votes for passage, equivalent to three-fifths support from the 35-member Senate. The vote ended 20 to 15.

Notably, this would have marked the first time in 25 years that Alabama residents would have considered establishing a paper lottery if it had been approved.

Where Does the Alabama Gambling Debate Head Now?

Although it’s “wait until next year” once again when it comes to gambling legislation, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. This is the closest the state has ever come to legalizing a lottery or sports betting. And the governor supports it. 

Gov. Kay Ivey commissioned the Study Group on Gambling Policy in 2020. The study concluded that Alabama could generate up to $800 million annually through casinos and sports betting. 

The expansion became a priority for Ivey and House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter. But Ivey announced (after the legislation failed) that she would not call a special session on the issue.

“Why would I do that?” Ivey asked, per “They cannot come to a consensus among themselves. Why would I spend the time and effort and money on a special session?

“Every year, it’s always wait till next year. I think people are tired of waiting until the next time.”

So, although they’re still waiting for gambling in the Heart of Dixie, it does appear that the support grows with each discussion. So, just like the entire state of Alabama, we’ll wait until next year to see how it plays out once again.