The journey to Alabama sports betting could be more interesting in 2022.
An effort in 2021 nearly made it through both chambers of the Alabama legislature before fizzling out in the House on the last day of the session. This year, at least one senator is planning to introduce a “comprehensive gaming bill,” which would likely include AL sports betting.
The session starts Tuesday and Sen. Greg Albritton has yet to introduce his expected bill.
“The real question is, what is the House going to do?” said Sen. Jim McClendon, who sponsored a similar bill last year. “Last time, we sent a bill well in advance of the waning days and they just didn’t act on it. If the past is a predictor of the future, they may fumble the ball again.”
Alabama gaming efforts often stall
The Alabama legislature has tried to get a constitutional amendment to establish a state lottery nearly every year since a ballot measure failed in 1999.
Alabama is one of five states without a lottery. The state did legalize daily fantasy sports in 2019.
Last year’s Senate bill would have allowed voters the ability to approve a lottery, six casinos and sports betting. It also would have created a gaming commission and called for a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
McClendon said legislative efforts can get “a little bit off-track” in election years as legislators try to “get money guys happy.” That could include the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who are in Albritton’s district and operate multiple gaming facilities.
New bill likely similar to last year, with Alabama sports betting
According to McClendon, Albritton plans on leading the Senate effort this year. McClendon said it will likely be similar to last year’s bill.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed expects the bill to receive “serious consideration,” according to AL.com.
Like last year, the House could be a problem. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon told local publications similar issues from the past remain and are amplified because it is an election year.
Support grows in Alabama
Gov. Kay Ivey is a supporter of gaming legislation. In 2020, Ivey commissioned a study that found a lottery, casinos and AL sports betting could raise up to $700 million for the state.
The Alabama Track Owners Association launched an ad campaign this month to encourage lawmakers to pass gaming legislation. Last year’s legislation would have granted the four tracks in the state the ability to become casinos.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is also on board. The tribe first released a plan for comprehensive gaming change in Alabama in 2019.
Southern states push into sports betting
States around Alabama are working to modernize gaming as well:
- Florida sports betting launched briefly in 2021 before running into legal challenges.
- Tennessee went live with mobile sports betting in 2020.
- Georgia could end up with sports betting on the ballot in 2022.
- Mississippi lawmakers could consider expanding its retail sports betting to mobile this year.