Alabama Sports Betting Nearing Final Steps
Alabama sports betting is now closer to the finish line than ever before.
The Alabama Senate Tourism Committee approved a plan to create a state lottery and legalize online and retail sports gambling Wednesday. This is not the first time that the state government has been presented with an opportunity to legalize sports betting, but it could be the one to make the change.
SB 294 was introduced by Republican Senator Greg Albritton last week and now needs a three-fifths majority approval from Senators and House members before it can make it onto voting ballots in the upcoming November election, where Alabama’s citizens would also have to vote in favor of the change. There are only a few days remaining for the bill to be approved.
Alabama Sports Betting and State Lottery is Coming
If approved, the SB 294 would allow sports betting in select retail locations in Jefferson County, Mobile County, Macon County, Greene County, Jackson County or DeKalb County, as well as lands held by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians following a compact.
“This is an industry that is running rampant in the state of Alabama,” Albritton said after proposing the Bill last week. “Alabama has no benefit from all of these activities, and yet we’re still suffering the consequences. We need to take control.”
His plan would put a 20% tax net on revenue and allocate money to local governments as well as the state general reserve.
The people who spoke out against the plan during a public hearing mainly cited concerns over the limitation of electronic bingo operations and the loss of revenue and jobs in affected areas; others also claimed that legal gambling was a step backward and benefitted by targeting poor communities.
This bill is a follow-up attempt to legalize Alabama sports betting legislation after SB 319 flamed out in the House last year.
The new proposal would allow the Alabama Education Lottery and Gambling Commission to create a state lottery and licenses for state casinos, which would need to gain approval before obtaining licenses. Alabama is one of five states not to have a state lottery, a system that generated $26.93 billion in total revenue in 2020.
SB 294 would also create opportunities for sportsbooks to partner with dog tracks in Greene County, Jefferson County, Macon County, and Mobile County; a new casino could also open on the tribal lands, and the three already-operational casinos under control of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians could offer table games.
State voters vehemently turned down the opportunity to create a state lottery the last time the opportunity appeared on their ballots in 1999.
Alabama to Join a Growing Market?
Americans wagered more than $52.7 billion on legal sportsbooks in 2021, per data from Morning Consult, a data intelligence company.
Alabama does not have any professional sports teams in the major American leagues but does have attractive gambling prospects in the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers, both of whom have been ranked number-one in either college football or college basketball this year.
According to ESPN, 72% of point-spread bettors during the week leading up to the NCAAF National Championship Game were in favor of the Crimson Tide, the biggest of which was a $1.2 million wager. With the school’s dominance in the Nick Saban era, they figure to be a constant force atop the college football ladder, thereby making them a hot commodity on the betting market.
Reports indicate that not all of the Republicans are in agreement with the proposed plan— certain officials oppose gambling entirely, while others would only like to see a state lottery, not online and retail sports gambling.
The Bill will need support from Democratic legislators, who shot down last year’s Alabama sports betting proposal.