Senator Calls For Cooperation On Alabama Sports Betting Bill

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Alabama sports betting

An Alabama sports betting bill met a wall of opposition in a Senate committee Wednesday, but a strong proponent kept hope alive for a deal this year. 

Sen. Greg Albritton took a chance to plead for cooperation on a comprehensive gambling package during Wednesday’s Alabama Senate Tourism Committee. The committee did not take action and carried the proposal, which includes Alabama sports betting, over for a future meeting.

While Albritton said there were likely enough votes on the committee to advance the package, he said there is a substitute bill expected in the coming days. Multiple legislators said they would vote ‘no’ on the floor as the legislation stands now.

“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 before asking for the bills to be carried over for the substitutes. “I [carry over] with seriousness that if we’re going to get this done, we need to have cooperation and compromise on both sides. We cannot have separate people and individuals running through and running over. I’ve given up today on running this through. I want the other side to come to the table and work together.”

Alabama opposition speaks up 

Multiple parties spoke Wednesday in opposition against House Bill 151 and House Bill 152. The pair of bills passed the House earlier this month

The bills create an Alabama Lottery and establish multiple casinos in the state, along with online sports betting. Heading into the week, Albritton acknowledged to LSR the package was a few short votes of the necessary 60% to pass a constitutional amendment.

Two of the organizations represented, Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Policy Institute, worry about the problem gambling that would come with a gaming expansion. They also fear the effects of major gambling companies from outside Alabama coming into the state’s economic ecosystem.

Where Alabama sports betting stands

One industry source told LSR last week that Alabama sports betting passage “sounds like a coin flip.” Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton told local media its chances are around 70%.

Lawmakers and LSR industry sources have indicated casinos are the likely sticking point. Legislators might strip casinos and possibly sports betting to reach the votes needed for passage.

Gov. Kay Ivey remains a supporter of the House package but warned this week she will not sign “just any gaming bill” that reaches her desk. Because it requires a constitutional amendment, Alabama voters also need to weigh in on the issue in November.

Lack of sportsbook support in hearing 

There was no US gambling industry representation during the hearing. The lone support came from the Poarch Creek Tribe of Indians

The PCI supports gambling expansion in Alabama. 

However, it hopes for some adjustments that minimize harm to the tribe.