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Alabama Sports Betting Dead Despite Gaming Bill Advancement

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated May 1, 2024 · 8:31 AM PDT

Alabama Crimson Tide guard Aaron Estrada, guard Davin Cosby Jr. and guard Rylan Griffen
Feb 28, 2024; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard Aaron Estrada (55), guard Davin Cosby Jr. (4) and guard Rylan Griffen (3) react after defeating the Mississippi Rebels at The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
  • Alabama sports betting hopes are dead for 2024
  • A conference committee moved an amended bill forward that does not include sports betting
  • The Alabama House of Representatives approved a bill that legalizes a state lottery and slot parlors, but no table games or sports betting

Hope for Alabama sports betting is officially dead.

Conferees yesterday moved amended versions of gaming bills HB 151 and HB 152 ahead to the House of Representatives, which were approved by a 72-29 vote. However, the bills did not include legalized sports betting or table games in the state.

The conference committee came to agreement that the bill would just include a state lottery and licenses for up to seven slot parlors in Alabama.

No Widespread Casinos, No Sports Betting

How did Alabama get to this point? The House approved expansive gaming legislation in February to legalize a state lottery, casinos, and sports betting. The House approved bills HB 151 and HB 152, which called for the legalization of up to seven casinos, in-person and online sports betting, and a state lottery to support Alabama education.

Despite the approval, a Senate committee quickly dashed hopes for sports betting in the state. The Senate Tourism Committee entirely stripped sports betting from the gaming packages just three weeks later, leaving only the approval of three tribal casinos, a state lottery, and parimutuel wagering on horse and dog races at seven state tracks.

The Alabama Senate approved the legislation by a 22-11 vote in March, but this month the House did not concur with the expansive amendments and requested a conference committee for the legislation.

The conference committee consisted of House conferees Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-80); Rep. Sam Jones (D-99); and Rep. Andy Whitt (R-16). The Senate was represented by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-22); Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-4); and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-24).

The conference committee submitted a report to the House that included amended bills allowing a state lottery and up to seven licensed slot parlors in Alabama. The conference report, however, did not include the legalization of full casinos, table games, or sports betting in the Yellowhammer State.

The bills allow for an official state education lottery to be administered by a lottery corporation under the supervision of the Alabama Gaming Commission, with 100% of revenue generated going to education in the state.

Additionally, up to seven licenses will be available to host in-person electronic games, such as slot machines and other electronic games, at several racetrack and bingo locations in the state. The Alabama Gaming Commission will allow racetracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobile Counties to apply for a license. Bingo halls in Greene County, Houston County, and Lowndes County will also be eligible for a license.

The bills moved out of the conference committee late Tuesday and were quickly approved in the House of Representatives by a 72-29 vote. However, the bills then stalled in the Senate, according to a report from the Associated Press, as a test vote showed they were one vote short of approval.

“We had a vote that ended up being a test vote. The bills are carried over, so the legislation is still available to us to continue to debate it,” Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed (R-5) told reporters.

Sports Betting Hopes High During Start of Session

Prior to the Senate stripping all sports betting language out of the legislation, the House-approved bills called for the establishment of an Alabama Gaming Commission to license and regulate the conduct of all sports wagering, charitable gaming activities, lotteries, and casino gaming activities in the state. The bills also created the Alabama Gaming Enforcement Division, which would have included the power to police all gaming activities in the state and “work to eradicate unlawful gaming and gaming-related activities.”

The bills taxed casinos at a rate of 24% of net gaming revenue and 95% of total gaming revenue was earmarked to the state’s Gaming Trust Fund every month. A percentage of the revenues would have been distributed among municipalities where the casinos are located.

Casino licenses would have been valid for a 15-year term. An extended initial license term could be granted by the gaming commission if the applicant proposes to make a minimum capital investment of $500 million at the proposed site. Casino license fees shall would not be less than $5 million.

Sports betting would be taxed at 17% of net gaming revenue, with 90% of the revenue allocated to the Gaming Trust Fund and 10% to be allocated among each county commission to be used “exclusively for law enforcement purposes of the respective sheriff’s department.”

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