Alabama Sports Betting Removed From Gambling Package

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Alabama sports betting

Lawmakers stripped Alabama sports betting and casinos out of a comprehensive gaming package Tuesday in an effort to pass the Senate

The Senate Tourism Committee amended the pair of House bills, HB 151 and HB 152, that authorize an Alabama Lottery. Prior to Tuesday’s change, industry sources told LSR that House members could re-add Alabama sports betting during a conference committee.

Because gambling requires a constitutional amendment, the legislation needs 60% of voters in the Senate, concurrence by the House and voter approval. If the House does not agree to the changes, which appears likely, a conference committee will be necessary for a compromise.

How Alabama gaming legislation looks now

The legislation still sets up an Alabama Lottery, as the state is one of five without a lottery. It would allow pari-mutuel betting and slot machine-like historical horse racing (HHR) at five racetracks and existing bingo halls. The state would tax gambling between 24% and 32%

It allows Gov. Kay Ivey to enter into compact negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The compact could result in full tribal casinos. 

Should it pass the legislature, the issue would go to voters. Tuesday’s amendment changes the election date on the issue from the November general election to a special election on September 10

Why lawmakers stripped out Alabama sports betting

The House passed the comprehensive gambling package February 15 and included online sports betting and up to 10 casinos. Ivey supported the House version and has hinted she might not sign an amended version

House passage was a first, as similar legislation in the past started in the Senate and fell flat in the lower chamber. Prior to the session, Sen. Greg Albritton hoped originating in the House would be enough to get it over the line. 

Albritton, however, was forced to make Tuesday’s changes to round up enough floor votes for passage. He removed sports betting to quell Republican concerns about the industry’s potential effects on young adults.

Sports betting a concern in Alabama

Sen. Bobby Singleton asked why the new language does not include sports betting. He said the package is to help eliminate illegal betting, and sports betting already happens in the state.

Albritton said it just is not in the cards right now. 

“We are aware that we have sports betting in the state going on, same thing with online betting,” he said. “Neither of those issues are being addressed in this package, and the reason for it frankly is because we do not have the votes to get those incorporated here.”

Alabama gambling future an unknown

Ivey has been a supporter of gambling expansion since at least 2020, when she commissioned a study group on the issue. 

The amended package Tuesday might not meet her desire for gambling in Alabama.

Likewise, the House is unlikely to support a tribal casino monopoly, according to the Alabama Political Reporter. Meanwhile, the Alabama Reflector reported House Democrats, key to the 60% passage in the chamber, are upset the Senate separately stripped out healthcare funding.