A bill to allow sports betting in Alabama has passed through the Senate and now heads to the House for consideration. This bill is much more complex than just sports betting as casino gambling, and a state-run lottery is also included.
The Alabama Senate passed the measure by a 23-9 vote as it seeks to create a new constitutional amendment to expand gaming options in the state. Alabama is just one of four states without a lottery or a commercial casino.
This passing of the referendum comes after another attempt failed earlier this year, but senators made some improvements on the bill to gain support. SB 214 was the first bill that started to gain some traction before ultimately being voted against by two votes.
Several details of this bill need to be worked out, and it’s unclear if it has enough support in the House to pass. There are three tribal casinos in the state, but they only offer Class II gaming.
Details of Bill
This bill proposes nine casino licenses be made available, with three of them dedicated to the current tribal properties. The remaining six licenses would be reserved for select counties in the state, and a bidding process would take place to award these licenses.
Before these gaming options become a reality, an Alabama Gaming Commission would be created to oversee and regulate the new industries. The new retail casinos could offer sports betting, but it is unclear if mobile sports betting will be included.
Both casino gaming revenue and sports betting revenue would be taxed at a rate of 20 percent.
Alabama Studied Gaming Expansion
Even though this push for expanded gambling has been recent in Alabama, it is not the first time that this has been discussed. Governor Kay Ivey has been a proponent of changing the state’s gambling laws, and she commissioned a study in 2020.
That study provided some positive results for those hopeful of expanding the gambling laws in the state. According to the study, Alabama will eventually see close to $700 million per year in revenue if all three gambling platforms are legalized.
Mississippi and Tennessee both have already launched sports betting, and that has put even more pressure on Alabama lawmakers to keep that revenue in the state.
History Not Good With Voters
Getting approval from the House is an important step for legalizing casinos, lottery, and sports betting, but it’s not the final step. This question will ultimately be put in front of the voters in the state, which could be a problem.
When lawmakers attempted to legalize and create an intra-state lottery system back in 1999, Alabama residents did not approve that measure. Most in the state believe that public opinion and perception have changed over the last 20 years, and there is hope that residents will support these new forms of gaming as well.
For the new constitutional amendment to be approved, it would require a simple majority vote in November.