Alabama Gambling Bill Package Set for Next Round of Discussion

Policymakers are set to consider legislation that could see the state’s first commercial casinos, legal online sportsbooks, historic horse racing terminals, and a government-run lottery.

Apr 19, 2024 • 16:23 ET • 4 min read
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A much-debated Alabama gambling package is set for another round of deliberation that could seal its fate. 

Lawmakers are scheduled to meet sometime between April 22 and April 26 to consider legislation that would see the most dramatic gambling expansion in Alabama history, per Birmingham’s 1819 news. As of time of publish, no meeting date has been announced publicly on the state legislature’s website

Policymakers are set to consider legislation that could see the state’s first commercial casinos, legal online sportsbooks, historic horse racing terminals, and a government-run lottery. Alabama is one of a handful of states without any of the aforementioned gaming offerings. 

No proposal has included legal real money online casino gaming. 

Alabama gaming background 

After nearly two centuries of opposition, Alabama has warmed to legal gambling, following trends in much of the rest of the country. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has backed gambling economic impact studies and her fellow GOP lawmakers have seemed amenable to new gaming avenues. 

That has been met with conservative and religious opposition to gambling in all forms, including the state lottery. Alabama is one of five remaining states without a government-run lottery, joining Nevada, Utah, Alaska, and Hawaii. Neighboring Mississippi was the most recent state to open a lottery. 

A lottery, comparatively less taboo to Alabamans and Americans in general, seems to be the most likely legalization candidate heading into next week’s meetings.  

The state House approved a sweeping package that would allow mobile sportsbooks, commercial casinos, the lottery, and an expanded compact with the state’s gambling tribe, which operates several limited casino gaming facilities. The Senate version only includes the lottery and the compact. 

To pass into law, any gambling changes would require three-fifths support for identical legislation in both the House and Senate. A majority of voters would also have to approve any gaming expansion on an upcoming ballot measure. 

The 2024 legislative session is set to conclude next month. 

Alabama voters rejected a lottery in 1999. Gambling measures in other states have fared much better in the ensuing decades, even in conservative states such as South Dakota and Nebraska. 

U.S. gaming expansion sees 2024 speedbumps 

After a relatively breakneck approval rate in the past few years, gaming measures have seen greater opposition to further expansion this year. 

Since the Supreme Court struck down the federal sports wagering ban in May 2018, more than three dozen states have approved legal sportsbooks. Several states have also approved or launched online casino gaming or brick-and-mortar casinos. 

The remaining gambling expansion holdouts have proven tougher to shake. 

Sports wagering legalization hopefuls in 2024 including Georgia, Minnesota, and Missouri have seen their efforts stalled over debates about sportsbook asset allocation, tax revenue distribution, and ongoing pockets of gambling opposition in statehouses nationwide. 

Online casino gaming advocates have seen even less success.  

Once promising iGaming proposals in New York, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana gained little traction. Bills with early momentum in Maine and Maryland faltered over concerns about how online casino gaming would hurt existing retail establishments, among other issues. 

With many state legislatures concluding their respective legislative sessions or set to do so in the coming weeks, Alabama stands as one of the few remaining gaming expansion hopefuls this calendar year.  

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