Alabama Sports Betting

With legal sports betting sweeping across the US, Alabamans could legitimately be wondering when the activity might be coming to the state. The short answer is that we’re not exactly sure, but it might be sooner than you think. The Alabama Legislature recently had a bill to legalize sports betting pass through the Senate and make it all the way to the House before it failed. So, there may be a reason to hope if you are a fan of the moneyline, the point spread or the over/under in Alabama.

This page is your one-stop shop for every detail about sports betting in Alabama that we can find. You can discover what efforts are currently underway to make sports betting legal, what legal sports betting (especially mobile) would look like, and how we got here in the first place.

Is sports betting legal in Alabama?

No. Sports betting remains illegal in Alabama, regardless of whether you want to play online or in a land-based sportsbook.

Does Alabama have legal online sportsbooks?

No. There are no legal online sportsbooks in Alabama. As a general rule, all gambling is rendered illegal by Title 13A, Chapter 12, Article 2 of the 2020 Alabama code as follows:

“A person commits the crime of simple gambling if he knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity as a player.”

The statute goes on to define gambling as, more or less, any activity that involves wagering something of value on an event with an unknown outcome. The definition is so broad that it has to clarify that normal business transactions do not count under this definition. Furthermore, the term “unlawful” means any activity not specifically identified as legal.

Online sports betting is not legal in Alabama, but you may see sites that claim to be legit Alabama online sportsbooks. They are not.

In reality, these sportsbooks that you can find are unregulated sites that operate from outside the US. They can expose people in the US to a variety of security problems. By playing with an offshore sportsbook, you open yourself up to theft of both your money and your identity. No matter how badly you want to bet on sports, the risk of playing on these sites is too great to make it worth your while. Either be willing to travel to Mississippi, Tennessee or (maybe) Florida to place your wagers, or find a way to sit tight until the Alabama Legislature can get itself together on sports betting.

When will Alabama regulate sports betting?

Possibly 2022. The Alabama Senate passed SB319 (along with two amendments) by a convincing 23-9-2 margin in 2021. The bill would have legalized a host of gambling options in the state, including online and retail sports betting. It’s probably the closest to an omnibus gambling bill that we’ve seen a state undertake. Furthermore, the bill only ran out of steam because of partisan fighting in the House over extra elements that members wanted to attach. None of the core legalizations, like sports betting, were the source of the debate, and in-state polling data suggests that expansion of gambling in the state enjoys a broad base of bipartisan support.

So, although the failure of these bills was a disappointing note to end the 2021 legislative session, there’s a pretty good chance that they will come back around again in 2022. Obviously, we won’t know the details of the proposition until a bill drops, but given that sports betting continues to blossom in states bordering Alabama, there is a bit of urgency to stem the flow of dollars across state lines that could work in favor of a new proposal.

Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in Alabama?

Yes. Alabama is one of only a handful of states that has formally decreed daily fantasy sports contests to be legal. In exchange for a license fee and 10.5% of gross revenue surrendered to taxes, DraftKings, FanDuel and other DFS companies are welcome to offer their services to people in Alabama.

The ability to play DFS contests at will in Alabama is a quite startling reversal of fortune in the state. The bill to make DFS legal in Alabama, HB361, passed into law just three years after the state attorney general at the time, Luther Strange, chased the DFS companies from the state with cease-and-desist orders. Strange opined in April 2016 that DFS represented illegal gambling and gave the companies two weeks to clear out of the Cotton State.

DraftKings, FanDuel and other companies obeyed the attorney general and left Alabama without a legal means to play fantasy contests for money. However, a new Legislature and new attorney general saw things differently in 2019, and Alabamans have had access to DFS ever since.

Who will regulate Alabama sports betting?

In all likelihood, a new agency would regulate sports betting in Alabama. Most states — even ones that are generally hostile to gambling — have some sort of commission or organization that can slide into the role of gambling regulator fairly easily. However, Alabama does not have a clear choice in this regard.

There is no gambling commission in the state. Its three casinos are all tribal and are outside of most of the state’s jurisdiction, so there’s no point in funding an agency. There’s no lottery commission, either, since Alabama remains one of the few states in the country without a lottery. Finally, while there is racing and pari-mutuel wagering, each individual track falls under local or municipal authority, rather than the state. An attempt to have one of these organizations monitor statewide sports betting would be a jurisdictional headache.

So, any new legislation to bring sports betting into Alabama will probably have to create a regulator at the same time.

How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Alabama?

Although sports betting is not legal in Alabama yet, we can safely assume that players will need to be 21 or older in order to play. For one thing, aside from DFS, no other gambling venue or activity in the state allows players to be younger than 21. Secondly, the bill that nearly became law in 2021 specifically mandated that players would need to be at least 21 in order to take part.

Where would I be able to make legal sports bets in Alabama?

Naturally, we cannot know for certain where you could play without a law on the books.  However, the most obvious choices are the three tribal casinos and three racing facilities in the state. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians owns and operates the Wind Creek Casinos in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka, and the tribe has been a key stakeholder in discussions about gambling expansion in Alabama up to this point. Alabama is also home to Victoryland, Greenetrack and Birmingham Race Course — three facilities that offer pari-mutuel betting and electronic bingo machines. Whether all six venues would agree to host sportsbooks is a different question, but they are the most likely eligible locations.

Obviously, if Alabama legalizes online sports betting, then you would be able to place a wager on sports from anywhere inside state lines with an internet connection. As long as you were of age and could verify your location inside the Heart of Dixie, you would have access to whatever online sportsbooks launched in the state.

Which online sportsbooks would launch in Alabama?

It’s hard to say without a law in place, but there are a few sportsbooks that are more likely to come to Alabama than others. When and if sports betting debuts in the state, here are some of the sportsbooks that might show up. Please note that our estimate about each book’s chance to launch hinges on Alabama passing legislation. Until there’s a sports betting law in the state, the chance of an Alabama launch for every single company below is zero.

DraftKings Sportsbook

Chance of Alabama launch: ALMOST CERTAIN

DraftKings would have to be one of the first guesses for sportsbooks that would come to Alabama. For one thing, DraftKings is already active in the state as a legitimate and regulated DFS company. The familiarity between the company and state officials would likely make it the first or second phone call that lawmakers would make to suggest a license application.

DraftKings also has a track record as an early adopter in new sports betting states. It was the first online sportsbook to launch in New Jersey after the demise of PASPA, and it has continued to lead the pack in many other states. DraftKings offers a distinct app experience for users because of its many flexible features. In addition to a robust live betting and live ticket system, DraftKings Sportsbook also suggests bets to each player based upon preferences and betting history.

FanDuel Sportsbook

Chance of Alabama launch: ALMOST CERTAIN

An early FanDuel launch in Alabama would make sense for the exact same reason as it would for DraftKings. FanDuel is already serving Alabamans with its DFS product, and a transition into full-blown sports betting would make a lot of sense. Additionally, FanDuel is part of the Flutter Entertainment empire, so if Alabama decided to move toward a full online gambling suite, PokerStars would suddenly be on the table as an option.

FanDuel is a top-notch sportsbook on its own, however, and offers one of the cleanest and smoothest apps in the industry. You can also find quality bonus offers and odds boosts that can help put extra dollars into your account. In short, FanDuel has cemented itself as one of the top sportsbooks in the US through its player-friendly approach.

Betfred Sports

Chance of Alabama launch: ALMOST CERTAIN

If Alabama ends up allowing sports betting, Betfred is the only other sportsbook company that is extremely likely to launch in the state. Betfred would come to Alabama for one reason — it is the sportsbook partner of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for the tribe’s casino in Pennsylvania. Because it’s easier to expand an existing partnership rather than create a new one, it’s likely that Betfred would be the retail sportsbook in one of the Alabama Wind Creek locations, if not all of them. Betfred also has an app in its stable, so it would be an ideal candidate for the tribe to use.

BetMGM

Chance of Alabama launch: POSSIBLE 

BetMGM is a possible entry into Alabama as a sportsbook for a couple of reasons. For one, BetMGM has the size and resources to operate wherever it wants, which already includes a large number of states. In addition, BetMGM does have some interests relatively close by in Mississippi, and a launch in Alabama would strengthen the company’s foothold in the largely untapped American South.

BetMGM’s strengths include its brand name and its app flexibility. Its most notable feature is the Edit My Bet function, which becomes active once you’ve placed your wager. Unlike almost any other sportsbook, Alabama BetMGM Sportsbook allows you to add to your open wagers, change participants, cancel portions of the bet or even change your bet amount after you’ve placed the initial bet.

Caesars Sportsbook

Chance of Alabama launch: POSSIBLE

Like rival BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook has interests in neighboring Mississippi, and would certainly not shrink from the opportunity to offer service in another Southern state. The main distinguishing factor for Caesars Sportsbook is its experience level. With the backing of one of the world’s oldest sportsbooks, Caesars Sportsbook app is not terribly flashy — it’s rather workmanlike — but you can find ways to bet on pretty much any type of sport with any type of bet you can imagine.

Because this sportsbook is part of the Caesars Entertainment empire, you can also use your play on the sportsbook to lever up your rewards points with Caesars Rewards. The points that you earn online are redeemable for perks, comps, and other benefits at the many Caesars properties around the globe. So, if you are already a Caesars Rewards member, there might be good reason to look for a Caesars Sportsbook launch.

PointsBet

Chance of Alabama launch: POSSIBLE

PointsBet is one of the biggest success stories of the post-PASPA era. The Australian sportsbook burst onto the US scene with an aggressive expansion plan and has cemented itself as one of the top sportsbooks operating in the country in the past few years. Although PointsBet has no specific ties to Alabama, the company has shown a propensity for being early to market in other states, and it might see Alabama as an opportunity to tap a historically underserved market.

PointsBet is one of the most player-friendly sportsbooks in the market. It routinely honors bets in games with unexpected or controversial outcomes, and company management has demonstrated its willingness to ensure fairness for its customers repeatedly. PointsBet is also (unsurprisingly) the home of PointsBetting. PointsBetting is a hybrid wager that you can use for spread bets, totals and some propositions on the sportsbook.

Do I have to be in Alabama to bet online?

Yes. Regardless of when sports betting launches in Alabama, you’ll have to be inside state lines in order to bet. Federal law prohibits interstate sports bets, and state law will almost certainly do the same. Each sportsbook app employs geolocation verification software to pinpoint your location when you wager. If you cannot prove that you are inside Alabama, you will not be able to bet. Sportsbooks can face fines and revoked licenses if they don’t enforce this requirement diligently, so don’t expect any wiggle room on this point.

How do I deposit money into an online sports betting account?

Although online sports betting is not legal or active in Alabama yet, we can safely give you an idea about how depositing money at an online sportsbook works. With few exceptions, it’s the same procedure everywhere, as sportsbooks are extremely motivated to make the learning curve as flat as possible.

The first thing to realize is that every sportsbook app will have multiple ways you can make a deposit. If you happen to come across a book that does not have a payment method that you can use, that’s a pretty good reason to shop for another app. Here are some common deposit methods:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Electronic checks
  • Electronic wallets
  • Online banking
  • Wire transfers
  • Prepaid cards
  • PayNearMe
  • Cash at the casino cage
  • Money orders

Now, there are a few things that you need to know about these methods as they relate to online sportsbooks (and other online gambling sites).

Credit cards are not a terrific option for a couple of reasons. For one thing, many issuing banks, including some of the big ones like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, will deny any transaction attempts with gambling sites. However, even if your bank is OK with depositing through your card, it might classify the deposit as a cash advance and subject the transaction to hefty fees. If you plan to use a credit card for these apps, make sure you investigate the matter with your financial institution first.

Electronic checks function the same way as the paper version. You issue an order to your bank to release funds of a certain amount, and the request passes through a clearing house. The only difference is that e-checks usually process much more quickly. It’s not unusual for your deposit to hit your account in a matter of seconds.

Electronic wallets, or e-wallets, are sites like PayPal, Skrill or Neteller. They serve as intermediaries between your bank account and various sites online. If you are already accustomed to using one of these providers, it might be your best option for a deposit and it might allow you even more flexibility.

Finally, PayNearMe is a method that will work if you tend to deal in cash. The service allows you to encode the details of your deposit into a custom barcode. You can then take this barcode to participating retail stores, like 7-Elevens or CVS Pharmacies, to redeem it. The clerk will scan the code, you pay however you like, and the money credits to your account.

Not all of these methods will be at each sportsbook. However, most of them will, and you should probably have an idea about how you’re going to deposit before you begin betting.

What sports can I bet on in Alabama?

Without a sports betting law on the books in Alabama, it’s hard to pin down exactly which sports will be available for wagering. It will depend on the law. However, for the most part, the major sports are going to be present on Alabama sportsbooks. You should be able to find some options for the following:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Mixed martial arts
  • Motor sports
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

What portions of those sports you’ll be able to bet on is where the real questions begin. The only universally restricted market for sports betting is high school sports. You won’t find odds for any games involving athletes under the age of 18. Even the Olympics, which, despite featuring various athletes at their pinnacles, are not legal for betting in certain states because of the presence of athletes who are minors.

Obviously, without any major professional sports teams in Alabama, the biggest draw for Alabama sports fans is college sports. Of course, the state is home to the University of Alabama, but it also has Auburn University, Troy University, Samford University and several other schools that play in NCAA Division I competitions. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a trend for lawmakers to prohibit certain types of bets or all bets on in-state sports teams. SB319, the bill that made significant progress through the Alabama Legislature in 2021, contained no restrictive provisions whatsoever. However, without another bill concretely on the horizon, there’s no way to tell if Alabama will allow wagering on the Crimson Tide, the Tigers or the rest of the bunch.

It is also possible to bet on electronic or virtual sporting events in some cases. To that end, SB319 did permit wagering on esports and video game competitions, along with “any other event authorized by the commission under this amendment.” This means that betting on some less-traditional alternatives is certainly in the realm of possibility.

Key dates in Alabama sports betting

The history of sports betting in Alabama is not a very long tale. After all, prior to 2018, the idea that sports betting could exist outside of Nevada seemed quite farfetched to most state lawmakers. However, with the end of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act via Supreme Court decision in 2018, each state is able to decide its own fate regarding sports betting. Alabama’s conservative history and temperament meant that it would never have been at the front of the pack for legalization, but, for a state without much in the way of gambling, Alabama has made significant strides toward legalizing sports betting. Here’s a brief rundown of what has happened most recently:

2019

The first full year of expanded sports betting brings both good and bad news to Alabama. HB315, a bill to legalize sports betting in Alabama and establish the Alabama Sports Wagering Commission, dies a quick death in the House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism. However, lawmakers indicate that sports betting is not complete anathema to them when they legalize daily fantasy sports betting with HB361. The authorization, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, is a complete repudiation of then-Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s cease-and-desist orders to DraftKings and FanDuel in 2016.

2020

Rep. John Rogers, a Democrat state representative from Alabama’s 52nd district, introduces HB336, which is mostly a carbon copy of his HB315 from the year before. It again seeks to legalize both sports betting and an Alabama sports betting agency. Unfortunately, it dies in the same place as its predecessor without a vote or much argument in its favor.

2021

To the shock of outside observers, SB319 passes all the way out of committee and through the Senate before coming up short in the House. The bill would have permitted wagering on almost any type of sport and taxed companies at a high-ish rate of 20%. It passes the Senate by a convincing 28-6-2 margin but gets bogged down and dies in committee, almost certainly spelling its end.

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a senior evergreen content writer for PlayUSA. He’s been writing and reporting on the gambling industry since 2013. Prior to working for PlayUSA, Shirley was a feature writer for QuadJacks, a site covering issues in poker. He also writes for BonusCodePoker, a poker satire site that lampoons the lighter side of card games. Shirley is a graduate of the MBA program at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business and has a degree in English from Texas A&M University. He grew up in Houston, TX, and lives in Katy, just west of Houston. Shirley is also a former high school teacher. He is married, has one daughter, and practices Brazilian jiu jitsu in his spare time.

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