Does Alabama Sports Betting Have A Shot In Conference Committee?

Written By

Updated on

Alabama sports betting

Hopes for legalized Alabama sports betting in 2024 are on their last legs heading into this week. 

Earlier this legislative session, the Senate stripped casinos and Alabama sports betting from a comprehensive lottery package, HB 151 and HB 152, despite overwhelming approval by the House. Now, a conference committee could be established as early as Tuesday to iron out the differences, according to Sen. Greg Albritton

“I anticipate the conference committee being established tomorrow, but after that, your guess is as good as mine right now,” Albritton told LSR Monday night.

There are nine legislative days left in the Alabama session before adjourning May 20. Even if the conference committee comes to an agreement, both chambers must secure 60% threshold required for a constitutional amendment, as well as a public vote.

Legislative disagreement in Alabama

Albritton led sports betting efforts in previous years and even passed out Senate legislation similar to this year’s House version. Despite that, the Senate decided against agreeing with the lower chamber’s effort this session.

Earlier this month, the House non-concurred with the legislation after the Senate stripped out sports betting and casinos from the lottery bill. As passed by the Senate, the legislation establishes an Alabama Lottery, as the state is one of five without a lottery.

With the non-concurrence, the House appointed three members for the conference committee. The Senate still needs to agree to the conference and appoint its three members.

Conference issues ahead

Rep. Chris Blackshear critiqued the Senate changes when the House non-concurred. Blackshear noted the long runway to create the legislation, which was partially based on previous Senate attempts.

“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.

Albritton is confident his chamber will agree to the conference. Beyond that, however, he is pessimistic about its chances.

“We’ll pull it out of the basket, go to conference, and then we’ll start working on it,” Albritton told 1819 News last week. “My concern is that we have such huge differences between what the House passed and what the Senate passed and then where that middle ground is. We’re going to have to get a 60% vote in both houses again. All of those are uphill battles. It’s going to be difficult.”

Governor ready for Alabama sports betting

Gov. Kay Ivey is a long time supporter of sports betting, even creating a study in 2020 for Alabama gambling.

Earlier this session, Ivey said she might not sign an amended version of the House-passed legislation. 

Along with up to 10 casinos and online sports betting, the original bill also included pari-mutuel betting and historical horse racing. 

Other Alabama sports betting details

Should the legislation receive Ivey’s signature, voters would have their say in the fall. Under the Senate version, however, that would come in September rather than the November general election.

Both the Senate and House bills tax gambling between 24% and 32%.

The Senate version allows for Ivey to enter compact negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The House, however, might not be open to a tribal casino monopoly, according to the Alabama Political Reporter