Alabama Sports Betting Bill Slated For Conference Committee

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Alabama sports betting

The fate of legalizing Alabama sports betting this year hinges on lawmakers from the House and Senate swiftly bridging a considerable gap on two gaming bills.

A conference committee will be appointed to HB 151 and HB 152 after House lawmakers on Thursday rejected Senate changes that gutted Alabama sports betting from the proposal.

Senate changes without Alabama sports betting

The version passed by the House in February would legalize online sports betting, up to 10 casinos, an Alabama Lottery, pari-mutuel betting and historical horse racing. Gov. Kay Ivey is a supporter, though she has signaled she might not sign an amended version

Because gambling laws require a constitutional amendment, the bill needs to pass a 60% vote threshold to reach Ivey. The Senate stripped it down in March to authorize only a lottery, parti-mutuel betting, historical horse racing and fewer casinos.

“We are aware that we have sports betting in the state going on, same thing with online betting,” Sen. Greg Albritton said at the time. “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.”

Bill sponsor slams Senate changes

Rep. Chris Blackshear criticized the changes Thursday, claiming they leave up to half a billion dollars annually “on the table.”

“They had it for three weeks, we worked on it for 15 months, and I think there are some details we can provide to them that may help them understand why we sent the package that we did to them,” Blackshear said on the House floor.

There is currently no time slated for the committee to meet, according to a legislative spokesperson.

Remaining hurdles for gaming package

Alabama is one of five states without a lottery and largely does not regulate legal gambling. Under both bills, gambling would be subject to a tax rate ranging from 24% to 32%.

The Senate’s version would allow Ivey to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The House, however, may be hesitant to support a tribal casino monopoly, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.

Should it clear the conference committee and Ivey, the changes would go before voters. Under the Senate version, that would happen during a special election in September rather than during the general election in November.