The future of Alabama sports betting

The state hasn’t had much success with gambling legislation in the past, but it does seem like there is an appetite to legalize Alabama sports betting at some point in the future.

Momentum towards legalization has been building over the last few years after a 2021 bill made it to the Alabama Senate floor before dying. 2022 brought a bill that proposed a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in the state and institute a state lottery. That too failed to pass through the Legislature.

“I’ve been told by House leadership, ‘don’t bring it up. Don’t do it. We’re not going to deal with it this year,’” said Sen. Greg Albritton on Alabama public TV in February 2022. Sen. Albritton was the main sponsor behind the bills introduced in 2021 and 2022.

Two of Alabama’s border states, Mississippi and Tennessee, have legalized sports betting. Tennessee offers mobile-only sports betting while bettors in Mississippi need to visit a casino to place their bets. Another border state, Georgia, tried to pass mobile betting several times in recent years, and Florida sports betting may also be on the horizon.

It seems likely that if more states begin to allow mobile betting that would be easily accessible to residents of Alabama, legislators would want to find a way to keep those tax dollars from leaving the state.

When will online sports betting launch in Alabama?

It’s impossible to give a timeline right now with no current sports betting legislation. If sports betting in the state is eventually legalized, it can take anywhere from three months to a year to implement and launch.

Alabama also has only three tribal casinos and no lottery, so retail Alabama sports betting could be sparse. The latest bill proposed in-person, on-premises play at licensed casinos or play through online platforms offered through those casinos. It’s not clear what future bills may propose or what kind of online sportsbook promos might be available.

Legal betting options in Alabama

There are no legal sportsbook websites that accept bets from anyone within the state of Alabama.

Any other websites that accept sports bets from someone in Alabama are not a legal option within the United States. There are various familiar sportsbooks that operate offshore, meaning they don’t hold a license from any US jurisdiction to legally accept bets from residents.

These websites offer no consumer protection whatsoever. Winning bets might not be paid out and companies can disappear without returning player deposits.

The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the United States is to do so with a licensed operator.

Most popular sports to bet on in Alabama

Whenever legalized Alabama sports betting does happen, there will be no shortage of sports betting enthusiasts.

The one critical aspect of sports betting for residents of Alabama to keep in mind is whether legislation will allow betting on in-state collegiate athletics.

Alabama has no professional sports teams, but it has plenty of big schools that boast the same sort of frenzied fanbase some of the biggest professional teams have.

The top two programs in the state are the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers, both of whom have strong NCAA football and basketball programs. The Crimson Tide football team in particular is likely the most popular team in the state regardless of sport, and has a strong nationwide following as one of the top teams in college football over the last 15 years under head coach Nick Saban.

As far as pro teams, allegiances in Alabama are likely geographical. The Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints are all based in cities close to the Alabama border and would have strong ties to NFL fans in the state. The New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies are the three closest NBA teams while baseball fans in Alabama likely favor the nearby Atlanta Braves of the MLB.

Alabama and Daily Fantasy Sports

While it isn’t betting, sports fans do still have options for sports entertainment.

Alabama legalized daily fantasy sports in 2019, meaning contests from DraftKings and FanDuel are legal to play in the state.

Is horse racing legal in Alabama?

While horse racing is legal in Alabama, there are currently no tracks that offer live racing. There are options to bet on out-of-state horse racing.

Alabama allows simulcast betting as well as historical horse racing, which looks and acts like a slot machine.

Online horse betting is also allowed by state law. That means sites like FanDuel TV (fomerly TVG), TwinSpires and BetAmerica are legal to access in Alabama.

Alabama sports betting timeline

2023: Lawmakers in Alabama expect multiple gaming bills, including online sports betting bills, to be introduced during the state’s legislative session. There is a substantial appetite to legalize sports betting among lawmakers in the state, and the effort would reportedly have the backing of Gov. Kay Ivey.

2022: SB 293 and SB 294 are introduced. SB 293 proposed an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama and would have established a state lottery while allowing for sports betting and casino-style games. The bill limited sports betting to in-person play at registered casino or mobile play through platform provided by a registered casino. The bill limited the number of licensed facilities to five in the state.

SB 294 would have implemented the amendment proposed by SB 293. Both bills died on the Senate floor.

Also in 2022, HB 405 was introduced in an attempt to make sports betting legal solely within Jefferson County. Jefferson County contains the state’s largest city and capital, Birmingham. The bill did not make it passed a first reading.

2021: A comprehensive package aimed largely at establishing a state lottery stalled at the end of the legislative session. The package passed the Senate and failed to see the House floor for a vote. Along with establishing a state lottery, the package aimed to turn state racetracks into casinos, complete with retail and mobile sports betting.

2020: HB 336 appears to have stalled in committee. The bill aimed to legalize mobile sports betting along with certain retail outlets licensed to take bets. Sports betting revenue would have been taxed at 10%.

2019: HB 315, which was similar to HB 336 in 2020, also failed in committee. But Alabamans got access to daily fantasy sports in 2019 after a bill legalized the games. The state’s attorney general deemed the games illegal in 2016.

Alabama sports betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Alabama?

No. Right now, there are no legal options for sports betting in Alabama.

Who would oversee betting in Alabama?

Legislators likely would need to create a regulatory board through the same legislation that legalizes AL sports betting to oversee the activity.

Will mobile wagering be allowed in Alabama?

It’s too early to say if mobile and online betting will be in a future Alabama sports betting law. The most recent legislation did include mobile sports betting in a limited capacity.

There are some websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?

No. There are no sportsbook operators licensed at the federal level.

Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operators offshore. It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens and those sites offer no protection to those who bet on them.