Alabama Sports Betting Dies In Conference Committee

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Alabama sports betting

Legislators left Alabama sports betting on the bargaining table while it appears the state could soon vote on a lottery. 

A conference committee on HB 151 and HB 152 advanced a compromise proposal, 6-0, ahead of the legislature’s May 20 adjournment. Rep. Chris Blackshear made a point to say Alabama sports betting is not included in the final legislation during the meeting.

Because gambling requires a constitutional amendment, the Alabama lottery legislation needs a 60% vote from both chambers and a public vote. The House passed the bills Tuesday night, but they hit opposition in the Senate with four legislative days left in the session. If passed by lawmakers, a special election will be held August 20, a compromise between the two chambers.

While AL sports betting is not included in the package, the potential establishment of a lottery is a significant development in Alabama, one of five states without one. A lottery has been proposed nearly every year since 1999

Final agreement in Alabama

Blackshear introduced both bills earlier this year, including HB 151, which, with voter approval, would amend the constitution to allow for various types of gambling. It does not include sports betting, or card and dice games.

The legislation allows for a state education lottery and electronic games of chance at seven locations in the state. It also calls for Gov. Kay Ivey to enter compact negotiations with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

HB 152 is the enacting legislation, including the establishment of the Alabama Gambling Commission and Alabama Lottery Corporation. It also creates a tiered licensing structure depending on how much a company invests in casino properties in Alabama.

What happened to Alabama sports betting?

Multiple times in the past few years, the Senate advanced comprehensive gambling bills, including sports betting, to the House, where it died. Heading into this year, House leadership used Sen. Greg Albritton’s legislation from previous efforts to inform its bill. 

Blackshear’s initial proposal included online sports betting and full casino gambling. The bills cruised through the House with 70-32 and 67-31 votes.

During a Senate Tourism Committee meeting in March, legislators removed full casino gambling and sports betting from the package. The Senate then advanced its version in March, and the House non-concurred, creating the conference committee earlier this month.

Does Alabama sports betting have future hope? 

Ivey has been a supporter of sports betting, including the formation of an Alabama gambling study group in 2020.

Prior to the session, Albritton told LSR the Senate might not agree to a House proposal even if it was identical to proposals it previously passed. On Tuesday, Albritton noted the progress made with the conference committee’s compromise. 

“There are still a lot of controversies. We’ve been successful at one thing, so we’ve made everybody mad,” he said. “But we’re making progress. I appreciate everyone’s efforts here.” 

He then said who knows what would happen in future sessions.