Alabama is one of five U.S. states that doesn’t have a lottery, but a new gambling bill would legalize lottery, casino gambling, and sports betting there.
If passed by the legislature, HB 152 would would be on the November 2024 ballot for voter approval. Sports betting would be taxed at 17% of adjusted gross revenue and all other gaming would be taxed at 24%.
The legislation allows for online sports betting but not online casino. The bill would legalize betting on professional and college sports, as well as esports, video game events, and Olympic events. It would clear the way for a wide range of wagering markets, including parlays, in-game wagering, and exchange wagering.
The bill, which has been rumored to have been in the works for weeks, would permit up to 10 retail casinos, including three existing facilities owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and one additional proposed Poarch Creek location. The bill names six locations — the city of Birmingham and the counties of Greene, Houston, Lowndes, Macon, and Mobile — that would be eligible to apply for casino licenses.
Three out of four Alabama border states currently offer some kind of legal gambling. Tennessee offers digital sports betting, Mississippi has in-person casinos and sportsbooks, and Florida has tribal casinos and online sports betting. Additionally, Mississippi legislators appear to be on the pathway to adding online sports betting.
Georgia lawmakers are currently considering adding online sports betting, and while the Senate sponsor of that bill wanted to make it a lottery game, which would not require voter approval, the bill was amended to require such approval before it was sent to the House.
PG/RG ideas in bill, but no specific earmarks
Alabama has spent years considering and researching gambling expansion. Prior to this session, the most recent bill to be discussed in Montgomery was a 2022 proposal that would have legalized a state lottery and digital sports betting tied to Poarch Creek casinos, but the bill didn’t get across the finish line.
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Since then, Alabama lawmakers seem to have settled on the idea that gambling expansion must be a constitutional amendment and are amenable to more brick-and-mortar gaming locations, as well as online sports betting and a lottery. The new bill would license casinos and sets the fee for that at a minimum of $5 million. It also requires an initial investment of $35 million.
The legislation would create the Alabama Gaming Commission and a gaming enforcement division. In the text of the proposal, there is no limit on the number of digital sports betting platforms that could be licensed, as lawmakers seem to want to leave that decision to the regulator.
The bill mandates a self-exclusion list, problem gaming regulation, and the creation of addiction programs and treatement centers, but does not earmark a specific dollar amount to any.
The bill was introduced Thursday and got a first reading before being assigned to the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee. Alabama’s legislative session is set to end May 20, and bills that don’t pass this session will not carry over to 2025.