To Top

Alabama Senate Strips Sports Betting, Retail Casinos From Gambling Legislation

Written By Matthew Kredell on March 6, 2024
Alabama Lottery Legislation

Sports betting and commercial casinos are no longer part of Alabama gaming legislation.

But what remains is still a significant advancement in gaming for one of the few states with little legal gambling.

As advanced by the Senate Tourism Committee on Tuesday, HB151 and HB152 could still bring a state lottery, parimutuel wagering, historical horse racing and, eventually, full tribal casinos to Alabama.

The result of the bills could be Alabama going from some limited gaming facilities authorized by local constitutional amendments to three full tribal casinos, seven facilities with slot-like historical horse racing machines and a state lottery.

A source in Alabama told PlayUSA that the Alabama Senate will pass the legislation Wednesday. Senate passage of a constitutional amendment requires a three-fifths vote, or 21 of 35 senators.

With the House not expected to agree with the sweeping changes, the bills would then go to a conference committee with representatives of the House and Senate working out their differences in the bill.

Alabama voters then need to approve the constitutional amendment authorizing the lottery and parimutuel wagering in a special election on Sept. 10.

What remains in Alabama gambling expansion bills

Last month, the Alabama House passed a sweeping gambling expansion that included 10 brick-and-mortar casinos, a state lottery, and retail and online sports betting.

Sen. Greg Albritton supported the full gambling expansion as passed by the House. However, after discussions with Senate colleagues on what they would support, he offered the substitutes adopted by the Senate committee.

“What we have is a reduced package from what we received from the House to accommodate and match what we can vote to get through,” Albritton told the committee.

Ironically, the Alabama Senate passed legislation that included casinos and sports betting in 2021 and 2022, but the House balked on legalizing gambling. The Senate experienced a large turnover last year that altered the support.

The new Alabama gaming bills include:

  • Creates an Alabama Gambling Commission to oversee gaming in the state.
  • Creates a state lottery.
  • Allows parimutuel wagering on horse and dog racing at four racetracks in Greene, Jefferson, Macon and Mobile counties, and an additional facility in Greene, as well as two bingo halls in Houston County and the town of White Hall.
  • Authorizes those seven facilities also to offer historical horse racing.
  • Allows the Alabama Gaming Commission to determine a tax rate between 24% and 32% for parimutuel wagering.
  • Distributes one-third of tax revenue to the general fund, one-third to education and one-third to infrastructure projects.
  • Requires the governor to negotiate a Class III gaming compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
  • Repeal local constitutional amendments on gaming and prohibit future local amendments.
  • Requires the legislature to establish a law enforcement division within the Alabama Gambling Commission to police lottery games and other gambling activities and eliminate unlawful gambling activities.

Senator questions removal of Alabama sports betting

Sen. Bobby Singleton expressed his dismay about the removal of Alabama sports betting from the package.

“I know if we’re talking about curbing gaming in the state, stopping expansion, at least capturing what we can, get a hold of it, state makes some money out of it, be able to fund these programs, we’re leaving a lot of money on the table with sports betting.”

Albritton, who does support Alabama sports betting legalization, responded:

“We are aware that we have sports betting in the state going on, same thing with online betting. Neither of those issues are being addressed in this package, and the reason for it frankly is because we do not have the votes to get those incorporated here.”

There is hope for the Alabama legislature to address sports betting in the future, Albritton said.

“We may have to re-deal with these later, but right now we’re trying to get something accomplished.”

Senator concerned tribal casinos could crush existing facilities

Senate Minority Leader Rodger Smitherman questioned allowing tribes to have full casinos while commercial entities essentially have slot parlors with historical horse racing.

“If they get a chance to get Class III, that’s the end of the facilities that don’t provide Class III,” Smitherman said of the tribe. “I can’t see people choosing to go to one that doesn’t have everything. I think that is a serious issue in regards to parity.”

Albritton responded that the bills do not allow for anyone to have Class III gaming. That would have to be negotiated between the tribe and the governor. However, there is an expectation that the stipulation eventually leads to the tribe getting to convert its three Class II gaming properties into full Class III casinos.

The Alabama Political Reporter reported Tuesday that a House source indicated the chamber wouldn’t support a bill providing a casino monopoly to the tribe.

Alabama online casinos are not part of the current legislative discussion. Keep track of what other states are considering through our online casino bill tracker.

Photo by PlayUSA
Matthew Kredell Avatar
Written by
Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 after federal passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act disrupted his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker. He has since interviewed more than 300 lawmakers around the country and written extensively about online gambling legislation. He has led coverage of bills to legalize online gambling in most states. A lifelong Angeleno and USC journalism alum, Matthew started his career working as a sportswriter for a decade at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

View all posts by Matthew Kredell
Privacy Policy