Sports Betting, Casino and Lottery Legislation Clears Alabama House, Heads to Senate

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The Alabama State Capital building in Montgomery Alabama is seen. (Photo by Seth HERALD / AFP).

Alabama is one step closer to having a lottery, casinos and legal sports betting.

Let’s explore the recent developments to assess their proximity to legalization and analyze the potential future for top-rated online sportsbooks.

Step By Step

The Alabama House of Representatives approved a plan that could create a state-regulated gambling industry for the first time in history.

“It’s been 25 years since the people of Alabama have been able to give their voice,” House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, said. “Today I think the members worked together and represented their districts to give the people a voice.”

The plan has two parts and each needed at least 63 “yes” votes to pass. The first part is called HB 151. It would change the state’s constitution to allow a state lottery, some casinos and sports betting in Alabama. It got 70 votes out of 105 in the House.

The second part is called HB 152. It would decide how much money the state would get from gambling and how the money would be used and controlled. It got 67 votes out of 105 in the House.

But it’s not over yet.

Legislation Still Has Tough Hill To Climb

The proposed law is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.

Alabama’s lawmakers have not passed a lottery bill since 1999, when it was suggested by Gov. Don Siegelman. However, voters rejected that proposal in a referendum. Alabama is currently one of five states that don’t have a lottery.

Should this year’s proposal pass through the legislative process, it will appear on the ballot in November for voters to decide its fate.

What the Alabama Sports Betting and Lottery Plan Calls For

The plan would create a new group called the Alabama Gaming Commission.

This group would decide who can run up to seven casinos in Alabama. Six of these casinos would be in these places:

  • Birmingham
  • Mobile County
  • Macon County
  • Greene County
  • Lowndes County
  • Houston County

The seventh casino would depend on the state making a deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. With this deal, the Poarch Creeks could run a casino in northeast Alabama, as well as the three they already run in Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery.

Additionally, the bill mandates the creation of a self-exclusion list, sets regulations for addressing problem gambling and calls for the establishment of addiction programs and treatment centers.

The Bill Could Generate Billions if It Becomes Law

During a recent public hearing on Tuesday, the bill’s sponsor stated that they have the potential to generate significant revenue for the state, estimating up to $1.214 billion.

According to the fiscal note of HB 152, revenue projections break down as follows:

  • $315 million to $492.2 million from casinos.
  • $15 million to $42.5 million from sports wagering.
  • $305.6 million to $379.4 million from the lottery.

The sponsor also mentioned the possibility of an additional $300 million from a potential agreement with the Poarch Band.

What’s Next for the Alabama Gambling Bill?

The Senate, which has been more favorable to gambling legislation in the past, could vote on the comprehensive legislation as early as next week.

One thing is for sure, the Governor approves of the House’s decision.

“I have long said the people of Alabama deserve to have another say on gaming, and today’s passage of HB151 and HB152 in the House is an important step forward and very significant, as this has not been accomplished by the House in years,” Gov. Kay Ivey told the Alabama Political Reporter. “The proposal passed by the House will clean up and crack down on the rampant illegal gambling and will give Alabamians the opportunity to have their say on regulated, limited forms of gaming.”