Alabama to Introduce Sports Betting Legislation This Week

Feb 02, 2021 09:02Tim Ronaldson
Alabama to introduce sports betting legislation

Alabama doesn't even offer a state lottery. But, lawmakers are hoping to make massive changes to the state's gambling laws in 2021.

This week, lawmakers in the state are planning to introduce legislation that would legalize sports betting in Alabama. The push for sports betting legalization is all part of an effort to expand gambling offerings throughout the state -- a move that would allow Alabama to take advantage of the huge opportunity for additional tax revenue.

Details of the Bill

The session of Alabama's Legislature begins on February 2, and state Representative John Rogers is prepared. He's going to introduce House Bill 199, that would amend Section 65 of Alabama's constitution, establishing the Alabama Lottery in the process.

Right now, Alabama is one of only five states in the country to not offer a lottery -- with Utah, Hawaii, Alaska and Nevada being the others. Rogers, who has been serving in the state capital for almost 40 years, has been an advocate of legalized gambling for a while now.

Rogers' bill wouldn't just legalize lottery in Alabama, though. It would also legalize sports betting. Revenue from the gambling proceeds would be split a number of ways. An equal 40% would be directed to Alabama's education budget, and to the general fund. The remaining 20% would go to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

The proposal from Rogers, a Democrat, has bipartisan support, too. Del Marsh, the Republican Senate President Pro Tempore of Alabama, also said he would introduce a gambling bill during this session.

Alabama's Current Situation

Right now, Alabama doesn't have any full-fledged casino gambling in the state either. There are three casinos that operate in the state and are run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

However, the state and the tribe never entered into a gaming agreement that would allow Class III Indian gaming. As a result, the casinos can only offer gaming terminals that are bingo-based. They can't offer table games or slot machines currently.

But Rogers and Marsh have bigger visions. They want to establish the Class III gaming at the tribal casinos and also expand the gambling offerings. Rogers says his bill would legalize mobile and in-person sports wagering in Alabama.

Land-based sites that could obtain licenses are the three tribal casinos as well as dog racetracks throughout the state. Other online companies could potentially apply for mobile licenses as well, meaning major players such as William Hill, DraftKings and FanDuel could enter the state.

Alabama Could Make a Lot of Money

Alabama is losing out on a lot of potential revenue from gambling. The Governor's Study Group on Gambling Policy released a report in December that said legal sports betting could bring in as much as $10 million in annual tax revenue.

The report also said a state lottery could bring in roughly $300 million in taxes each year, with casino gambling bringing in up to $400 million. That's the potential for more than $700 million in annual tax revenue Alabama isn't realizing right now.

In terms of sports betting, that number could grow even higher if mobile wagering is allowed in the end. A big reason for that is that Mississippi and Tennessee -- two of Alabama's border states -- have legalized sports betting on the books right now.

While Mississippi doesn't allow mobile sports wagering, Tennessee does. This means Alabama residents who live near the Tennessee can simply drive across the border to place a sports wager right now. Those living near Mississippi can travel to one of that state's casinos to place a sports wager.

Tim Ronaldson
Lady Liberty
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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