Gambling proponents in Alabama appear focused on crawling before they try to run. A proposed Alabama gambling amendment would only introduce tribal casinos and a state lottery, falling far short of the iGaming and sports betting initiatives other states are taking on in 2022.
While it’s a cursory introduction to legal gaming for Alabamans, it still faces significant obstacles. The exact timing that could make it a quick turnaround onto a statewide ballot also threatens its chances of getting on the ballot in the first place.
What’s in the Alabama gambling amendment proposal?
According to the Associated Press, AL Sen. Greg Albritton plans to press the issue again in 2022. Earlier this year, a similar proposal cleared the body he is part of but failed even to see a vote in the state House.
Currently, state law allows for only two types of legal gambling. Both are pretty limited, however. The two types are charity bingo or raffle games and wagering on horse races.
State law on both issues doesn’t explicitly legalize either but instead merely allows individual municipalities to hold referendums on whether to allow such activity within their jurisdictions.
Albritton’s proposal would not change any of those standards. Instead, it would authorize the state to conduct a lottery and negotiate a gaming compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians by altering its constitution.
That’s provided that registered voters in the state would approve such a measure on the November 2022 ballot. Just getting to that point might prove a tall task for the second consecutive year, too.
Gambling could become a mid-term, primary issue in Alabama
It’s a great time to introduce a potential constitutional amendment because of an upcoming statewide election. That’s also the exact reason the timing could be poor, though. Many state officials are up for reelection.
That list includes Gov. Kay Ivey, who has been open to gambling expansion in the past. She commissioned a study of its impact over a year ago. She seems likely to face primary challengers, including staunch gambling opponent Tim James.
Additionally, a large portion of both state legislative chambers is looking to keep their seats. Even if gambling expansion isn’t an issue they are reluctant to support due to Conservative attitudes, the demands of campaigning on their time could push gambling expansion into back-burner territory for them.
It looks like AL is a long way off from considering legal wagering on Crimson Tide games. Right now, just getting to the place where Alabamans don’t have to cross state lines to buy a Powerball ticket might be a bridge too far.